A recent study by the Pittway Corp. reveals that new fire detection technology can reduce false activations by smoke detectors in commercial locations by more than 50 percent.
The study was conducted in the growing community of Naperville, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. In 1985, the ratio was 1.15 false dispatches per system on a base of 578 installed hardwired systems with smoke detection. In 1997, the ratio was 0.48 falses per system on an installed base of 3,927 systems. The results show a dramatic decrease in false dispatches despite a seven-fold increase in the number of systems.
The data shows that new fire systems were responsible for just 30 percent of all unwanted alarms in 1997.
The study makes several conclusions:
The majority of nuisance alarms are caused by system application errors. A common example includes placing detectors near steam of smoke sources.
Tougher UL testing has improved smoke detector quality.
Improved technology, such as bug screens, humidity and dust immunity, alarm verification by intelligent panels, and multisensing, multicriteria detectors have all combined to reduce the rate of false alarms.
Increased education by groups such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA) has boosted training.
(A more in-depth review of the study and the specific technologies reducing false smoke detector dispatches will appear in a future issue of Security Sales.- Ed.)