Safelincs was very pleased when they were asked to present a section at the National Prevention Committee Meeting which was held by the Chief Fire Officers Association at the end of January. The invitation to the West Midlands Fire Service headquarters came as a result of our partnership in the Government’s Fire Kills campaign.
The Fire Kills representative for the campaign had previously tabled a paper expressing concerns that large numbers of households may now have mains powered smoke alarms that are past their useful working life. In 1992 the Building Regulations were amended, requiring every new build to have mains powered, interconnected smoke alarms installed. Many smoke alarms installed under this regulation are still in use and are potentially approaching their twentieth year of operation. This has raised the question; “when should mains powered smoke alarms be replaced?”
Research carried out in the USA and Canada tends to support the manufacturers recommendation that all smoke alarms, mains or battery powered, should be replaced every ten years. The results of this research supports claims that a smoke alarms effectiveness may be compromised over time due to accumulated dust, insects, airborne contaminants and corrosion of electrical circuitry.
The two main issues surrounding the replacement of mains powered alarms are:
- Making people aware that smoke alarms do not last forever and need to be replaced after a certain amount of time
- A concern that, when made aware, householders will be scared off replacing their units due to the expense and inconvenience of having to call out an electrician to carry out the replacement.
Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director of Safelincs, presented a new product at the committee meeting which has been specifically designed to address the second issue. easichang®, is a replacement detector head containing the sensor and circuitry for a range of Ei Electronics smoke and heat alarms – the UKs most widely used mains powered alarms. Using the removal tool provided, the old head unit can be removed leaving the base plate (which is wired into the mains power) in situ. The new head unit can then be easily installed on the existing base without requiring an electrician.
The presentation sparked a lot of interest with most in attendance seeing the benefits of these products. Plans are now under way to carry out UK based research which will help to provide crucial evidence as to how frequently smoke alarms should be replaced.
The meeting was left on a positive note with delegates returning home to continue discussions with colleagues about the most successful way to promote the active replacement of smoke alarms no longer fit for purpose.