Shocking differences in response times of smoke alarms revealed
As a landlord you have a legal responsibility to fit fire alarms inside the property on each storey on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. Therefore it might be worrying for you to find out that the recent Which? investigation found a huge difference in the time it takes popular smoke alarms to sound – with one even failing to go off.
In a series of four controlled fire tests of 15 smoke alarms Which? discovered that smoke alarms all meeting the British Standard can still pass the official tests and receive the Kitemark despite a difference of almost 5 minutes between response times.
One of the two samples of the Devolo fire alarm tested failed to sound at all in two of the fire tests and following the investigation Which? is now listing the Devolo Home Control Smoke Detector as a ‘Don’t Buy’ product. If you currently have this fire alarm fitted within your rental property you should consider replacing it.
The four types of fire tests included smouldering wood, solvent, plastic and cotton fires.
In the fire tests involving smouldering wood, two of the approved alarms of the First alert SA300Q and the El Electronics Ei3500S took more than nine minutes to trigger, while the fastest the Nest Protect Smoke+Carbon Monoxide Alarm was more than four minutes quicker to sound.
The official safety testing method measures the amount and thickness of smoke that is required to trigger the alarm and according to these tests the response times are fine and all of the products tested meet the BS EN 14604 standard.
Of course the safety consequences of a slow sounding alarm could be tragic. As in the event of a fire every minute counts when it comes to getting you and your family or your tenants and their family to safety.
The Which? test results
|Price||Type||Response time, wood fire (minutes)|
|Nest Protect 2nd Generation Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm||£100||Smart Optical||05:13|
|Devolo Home Control Smoke Detector||£50/
|Fire Angel ST-622||£ 26||Optical||06:53|
|Fire Angel ST-620Q||£17||Optical||07:28|
|First Alert SA700LQ||£19||Optical||07:38|
|First Alert SA720CE||£19||Optical||07:38|
|Fire Angel ST-625||£12||Optical||08:13|
|First Alert SA200Q||£11||Ionisation||08:27|
|EI Electronics Ei100B||£9||Ionisation||09:02|
|EI Electronics Ei3500S||£16||Ionisation||09:32|
|First Alert SA300Q||£13||Ionisation||09:32|
Following these results Which? is now asking for a new, tougher standard that only rewards models that sound more quickly, with the test findings passed on to Trading Standards.
Alex Neill, Which? MD of Home Products and Services said: “People will be surprised to see such a big variation in response times from alarms that are currently classed as being safe and which pass the standard. We want to see stricter testing criteria because every minute counts in a fire.”
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