Intrusion Systems Emitting Dense Smoke Opposed by Fire Chiefs


The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) warns a new burglar alarm system that deploys dense smoke to incapacitate an intruder is likely to activate smoke alarms, prompting a fire department response.

The systems are sold on the premise of protecting a property by having a blinding smoke screen quickly fill an area when a burglar alarm is activated.

Chief Alan Perdue, chair of the IAFC Fire and Life Safety Section, brought the new alarms to the attention of the IAFC Board of Directors, saying that several national franchise businesses are reportedly installing this type of system.

IAFC President Chief Jim Harmes conveys a scenario where firefighters are dispatched to a structure and upon arrival they unwittingly happen upon a burglary in progress with the potential of having to confront an armed perpetrator.

“The entire fire response lends itself to multiple situations where a firefighter or citizen can lose their lives, all because a burglar alarm was activated, generating a false fire alarm response,” Harmes says.

The International Fire Code specifically prohibits these types of systems, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code has provisions that prohibit anything from impeding egress from a building. Fire departments may not be notified of installations of these alarm systems in their jurisdictions, according to the IAFC, because they are part of a burglar alarm system.

The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) has also announced its opposition to these types of systems, saying it supports the IAFC position on eliminating the use of smoke barriers. The association recently requested a product called the “SmokeCloak” be removed from CVS stores in Florida.

“The smoke barriers present an inherent danger to firefighters and law enforcement, and the rationale for their use is fundamentally flawed,” says CSAA President John Murphy.

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