The National Fire Protection Association tells us that deaths in home fires have decreased remarkably over the last 30 years, even though the number of fatalities per 1,000 fire incidents has remained fairly constant. Early warnings, in the form of monitored fire alarms and smoke detectors, can help to ensure that people and pets get out alive when there is a fire in a building or home. This is especially important in small communities which depend to a great extent upon volunteer fire department personnel which typically have longer response times.
Decreases in Fire Incidents; Fire Alarms Still Needed
Fires have decreased over the past 30 years or so, as shown in this graph to the left from NFPA. However, the chart does not give the whole picture. While the number of people dying in fires has decreased overall, we do know that when there is a fire, people do still die a horrible death when trapped in a burning building. Therefore, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure safety in the home and in all types of facilities to save lives!
As the population and number of homes and buildings grow, we would expect to see increases in the number of fires; safety campaigns along with better technology have reduced these numbers significantly. Between the use of flame-retardant materials, sprinkler systems, local smoke and fire alarms, and even a reduction in cigarette smoking, the incidence of fire has lessened. The flip side of these decreases seems to be other forms of security systems like surveillance cameras, access control and alarm systems have led to a sharper decrease in the number of deliberate fires being set. Arson fires in homes and buildings has decreased markedly, and only outdoor arson fires seem to still be on the rise. This seems to correlate with the increased use of security equipment; arsonists likely feel safe from detection in those instances.
Monitored Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors
Still, fire is a very real threat to homes and businesses. Monitored fire alarms and smoke detectors offer the earliest detection and warning, and can summon immediate help. This is crucial on a few levels–
- Firefighters can be called quickly by the monitoring station, even if no one is home.
- Sleeping people can be warned and woken up to get out and injury or death prevented.
- These monitored fire alarms are critical to saving the lives of pets that are home alone.
- Monitored alarms are not disabled when something gets burned in the kitchen, like the local alarms with their piercing sirens will be.
- Monitored, low-voltage alarms can tell the monitoring station exactly where the smoke or fire incident originated and direct firefighters better.
Monitored smoke and fire alarms are typically installed outside of bedrooms and away from the kitchen; this reduces the incidence of false alarms.
Many homeowners will use a local smoke alarm in the kitchen for cooking mishaps, but we recommend not to connect them to the alarm system. After all, there is no reason to have the fire department dispatched when someone burns a pizza–when there is smoke, but no fire. Here’s another important tidbit of information– in times past, half of all calls for firefighters were false alarms, but today, there are more false alarms than fires. Best to use firefighters only when they are truly needed.
Low-voltage, monitored smoke and fire alarms offer peace of mind to pet owners and grown children of elderly parents; how else would you be aware there is a fire in your home, or Mom’s, that could injure or kill while you are at work? Aside from that, these monitored smoke and fire alarms summon firefighters to the scene quickly and help to minimize physical damages from smoke and fire, saving your property and reducing your financial losses.