Changes are coming to smoke alarm standards in 2021
Underwriters Laboratory, Inc. will release new standards for smoke alarms in June 2021.
According to Lt. Erin Stehle, the public education officer for Harrisonburg Fire Department, the main goal of these alarms is to tell the difference between smoke from a fire and nuisance smoke.
Nuisance smoke is considered smoke from cooking or steam from a very hot shower that might set off a fire alarm even where there's no fire. Stehle said this is a big reason that people disable their smoke alarms, which can prove deadly.
"We know that smoke alarms are important, so this new standard will definitely be a benefit to people; it's definitely more technologically advanced, which is something that's new and exciting," said Stehle.
She said people are twice as likely to die in a fire if they do not have a smoke alarm in their home. These changes to smoke alarms can help people keep them attached and make sure they are working, without the worry of it accidentally being set off when, say, frying bacon.
Stehle also said that the new alarm should be able to prevent calls to the fire department for something that is not a fire.
"I definitely can see that if people start installing these, or purchasing them or fire departments start giving them out, we are going to see less false alarms due to fires," said Stehle.
She said there is nothing wrong with current smoke alarms — this will just become the "new normal" as old smoke alarms are replaced.
The new alarms will also be more sensitive to polyurethane and plastic, which are in a lot of home goods and furniture, to detect a fire faster.