A Look at the Smoke Detector Listing Process

What 3rd-Party Testing Labs Seek

Effective, code-compliant smoke detectors in residential and commercial fire alarm systems are an absolute must where it comes to detection. When life safety is involved, there are usually no second chances when it comes to the ravages of a fire.

According to NFPA, during 2007, 78 percent of all structural fires, or a total of 414,000, took place in homes throughout the United States, or one every 76 seconds. In addition, 84 percent of all structural fire deaths took place in the home. A total of 2,865 people died in house fires during 2007 alone.

In order to save lives, the smoke detectors you install must not only be compatible with the fire alarm panels you employ, but they also must be found to meet other performance standards. For example, third-party testing laboratories like UL and FM Global seek to verify the electrical and mechanical integrity of the smoke detector being tested.

“They do this by evaluating the detector to the applicable UL standard which has performance, electrical, mechanical and environmental requirements, including actual fire testing,” says Nikolic. “What this does is ensure that critical components meet their standards and it establishes smoke detection sensitivity limits within which it must function as intended in the field.”

“Simply put, does the tested product comply with the construction and performance requirements in the applicable standard?” says Drengenbert. “We need to verify that the electrical characteristics of the panel and detector specified by the submitter are consistent with the measured values, and then compare the submitted values to confirm that the panel and detector are compatible.”

Nikolic uses as an example the intelligent analog and digital fire alarm systems made today. “These systems are quite complex, hence UL requires compatibility testing to ensure that these detectors will communicate correctly with the fire alarm control panel.”

This provides assurance that all initiating and notification devices work properly. Of special concern are trouble and maintenance signals. These devices must also send alarms when called on to do so. Otherwise the entire point of their existence is lost.

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