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updated 10/3/2012 7:45:39 AM ET 2012-10-03T11:45:39

Below are statements in response to the Rossen Reports investigation on smoke alarms from smoke detector manufacturers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

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Statement from Kidde (makers of Kidde, FireX, and Code One brands):

“Smoke alarms save lives. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the number of U.S. home fire deaths has been cut by about half since the mid-1970’s, when smoke alarms first became widely available.  

A fire’s very nature makes it unpredictable. Because no one can know when a fire will occur or what type of fire they will have in their home, virtually every recognized fire authority and safety expert – including NFPA, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) – recommend having both photoelectric and ionization alarms for optimal protection against flaming and smoldering fires. Kidde supports and states this recommendation on its packaging, website and in its owner's manuals.

Kidde offers photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms as well as a dual-sensor alarm that combines both technologies in one unit. All three can be found at home improvement stores and other retailers nationwide, or online. In addition, every Kidde smoke alarm – regardless of technology - must pass identical tests in order to meet the current smoke alarm performance standard, UL 217.

Knowing the difference between alarm technologies can help consumers to make an educated decision on alarm placement.  However, regardless of technology, a home that does not have enough working smoke alarms is still underprotected.  It is vital that families have working smoke alarms on each floor, outside of sleeping areas and inside each bedroom.  Families must also practice an escape plan, so they know what to do when the alarm sounds. 

For more information on smoke alarms and fire safety, visit www.kidde.com.

Statement from BRK Brands (makers of BRK, First Alert and Family Gard brands):

“Fire experts from the National Fire Protection Association, the National Institute of Standards, Underwriters Laboratories, and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission — based on extensive testing — have concluded that either photoelectric or ionization technology provides adequate escape time in most fires. Because different technologies are more sensitive to different types of smoke particles, for maximum protection, First Alert and fire experts recommend you use both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms — or dual sensor fire alarms — on every level of your home and in every bedroom. We recognize that some consumers cannot afford separate alarms or the cost of dual alarms. In that event, either technology provides adequate time to escape in most fires.

First Alert products are subject to rigorous internal testing on a frequent basis. We also meet or exceed standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) / Underwriters Laboratories. The ANSI/UL's standards result from stringent, independent testing and input from vigorous interest parties, including fire services and governmental agencies. That testing — and the resulting standards — are what consumers should look to in judging product quality.

First Alert, along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and fire services around the country, strongly recommend the following:

  • Every home should have a smoke alarm on every level of the home and in every bedroom to provide the earliest possible warning.
  • Batteries in smoke alarms should be checked every month and replaced at least every six months.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced entirely at least every ten years.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen and other locations throughout the home.
  • Every family should have an escape plan and practice it at least once a year.

If your alarm sounds, leave the residence immediately. Do not re-enter until fire officials say it is safe.”

Statement from Consumer Product Safety Commission:

“CPSC staff believes that the presence of a working smoke alarm with any detection technology can save lives and has saved lives. The staff believes that favoring one type of detection technology over another would be counter to this. CPSC — as the agency that created the "Good, Better, Best" concept for consumers — has advocated for years that consumers maximize their protection by using multiple smoke alarms.

CPSC staff is working to improve the performance of smoke alarms, regardless of sensor type, so they detect smoldering and flaming fires sooner. Looking to the near future, new requirements in UL 217 will improve baseline smoke alarm performance. The new tests would result in smarter and faster-detecting ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms in response to many fire types. The work that UL is doing, which CPSC is participating in, takes into account fuel loads in modern homes, such upholstered furniture. The new performance test will most likely drive smoke alarm manufacturers to develop smarter smoke alarms that detect smoldering and flaming fires faster and at the same time decrease nuisance alarms.

CPSC staff also actively participates in the development process of the building code that is most commonly used by these authorities for smoke alarm installation requirements, NFPA 72, to help ensure that optimal fire safety protection is being provided to the public. CPSC staff is always working to improve smoke alarm performance in conjunction with enhancements to technology. In the last five years, we participated in changing UL 217 and NFPA 72 to require low frequency smoke alarms for the hearing impaired, establish distance requirements for smoke alarms near or in the kitchen to reduce nuisance alarming, and improve coverage for larger homes. We also motivated manufacturers to develop wireless interconnected smoke alarms —taking advantage of technology improvements to enhance fire safety in existing homes.”

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