Every house should have at least one smoke detector on each level. Smoke detectors should be installed on or near the ceiling outside each bedroom and on each level of your home. Use the instruction sheet that comes with your smoke detector to properly place the units to maximize their efficiency. To avoid false alarms, don’t mount ionization or dual smoke alarms in the kitchen, where burnt toast might set them off, or near sources of steam such as a bathroom or laundry room.

There are two technologies used in smoke detectors. For the best coverage, you might want to have one (or more) of each in your home.

  • The ionization type of smoke detector is generally better at detecting fast, flaming fires that burn combustible materials rapidly and spread quickly. Sources could include paper burning in a wastebasket or a grease fire in the kitchen. These kinds of fires account for 70% of home fires.
  • The photoelectric type of smoke detector is generally better suited for detecting slow-burning fires. These fires may smoulder for hours before they burst into flames and are caused by such things as cigarettes burning in couches or bedding. These kinds of fires make up 30% of home fires.

There are also two power sources for smoke detectors. Again, you might want to choose one or more of each for your home.

  • Battery-operated smoke detectors have the advantage of providing coverage even during a power failure. Given the long power failures experienced here on Denman Island, and the use of candles during the blackouts, a battery-powered smoke detector is a good choice. The down side is that you have to remember the change the batteries regularly. Many people use the yearly time change in the spring and fall as a reminder to install new batteries. This type of smoke detector should be replaced every ten years. Recent innovations in battery-type detectors
  • A wired-in smoke detector never needs batteries, since it is powered from your house wiring. You do not have to worry about replacing batteries. However, in the event of a power failure, it will not work unless an emergency generator powers your house. Most wired-in smoke detectors are inter-connected and will all sound simultaneously when any one is triggered. That way you’ll be warned of a fire in the lower floor when you’re asleep upstairs. Recent innovations in some battery-type detectors can provide this inter-connected feature, as well.

The Fire Department has basic battery-type smoke detectors available at no charge upon request.