Student Performance Objective: Given a smoke detector and

Instructor Guide
Title: Smoke Detector Installation
Time: 1.5 hours
Smoke Detector – photoelectric
Smoke Detector – ionizing
Smoke Detector – hearing impaired
9v battery
AA batteries
Vacuum with upholstery attachment
Drill with drill bits
Information handouts
Student Performance Objective:
Given a smoke detector and tools, the student shall identify the types of smoke detectors
available for residential structures
Enabling Objectives (EOs):
EO 1 At the conclusion of the block of instruction, the student shall be able to identify the
types of smoke detectors available and their strengths/weaknesses
EO 2 At the conclusion of the block of instruction, the student shall be able to determine the
locations for installation of residential smoke detectors
EO 3 At the conclusion of the block of instruction, the student shall be able to install a smoke
detector in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations
EO 4 At the conclusion of the block of instruction, the student shall be able to identify the
benefits of having working smoke detectors installed in a residential structure
The traditional goal of the fire service is to protect life and property from threats posed by fire.
Unfortunately, the United States leads the industrialized world in the number of residential
structure fires and the number of deaths and injuries from these fires. In 2013, there were
369,500 home fires which resulted in 2,755 civilian deaths, 12,200 civilian injuries at a cost of
Fire fighters are in a unique position, as subject matter experts, to advocate for and assist the
community in reducing the number of fires and the threat that they pose. One of the most critical
and effective means of reducing injury and death from residential structure fires is the
installation and maintenance of smoke detectors.
Smoke detector installation and testing programs allow fire fighters the opportunity to
proactively reduce the risk to community members. Response personnel should actively engage
community members during routine incidents, offering to test detectors and providing short,
public outreach efforts to reduce community risk and reinforce life safety measures.
Per the NFPA:
60% of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors
Having a working smoke detector reduces the risk of dying in a home fire by 50%
At least 5,000,000 homes do not have working smoke detectors
Types of smoke detectors
Placement of smoke detectors
Maintenance of smoke detectors
I. Types of smoke detectors
A. Ionizing smoke detectors
1. Use a small amount of radioactive materials
2. Smoke causes a disruption in the flow of ions which activates the alarm
3. Work best on flaming fires
B. Photoelectric smoke detectors
1. Smoke interrupts the flow of light on a sensor, resulting in activation
2. Work best on smoldering, smoky fires
C. Combination
1. Has both photoelectric and ionizing sensors installed
D. Activation
1. Sound based
a. Upon activation, a piercing alarm sounds and will sound
2. Hearing impaired
a. Upon activation, one or more lights will trigger
b. An additional alarm will vibrate. This alarm is placed in the bed
(usually under the pillow) to waken occupants
D. Selection
1. All detectors should be approved by a testing laboratory, such as Underwriters
Laboratory (UL)
2. If possible, a combination of detectors or a detector with both photoelectric
and ionization capabilities should be used
II. Placement of smoke detectors
A. Detectors should be placed:
1. Inside each bedroom
2. Outside each sleeping area
3. On every level of the home, including the basement
4. On floors without sleeping areas, alarms should be placed in the living room/den
and/or near stairways
5. In basements, smoke alarms should be installed near the stairs
6. Detectors should be at least 10 feet from cooking appliances
B. Installation
1. Mount detectors high on walls (within 12” of the ceiling) or ceilings.
2. For pitched ceilings, the detector should be within 3’ of the peak but no closer
than 4” from the peak
3. Do not install near windows, doors or other areas affected by drafts that can delay
C. Mount using manufacturer’s instructions and equipment provided with detector
III. Maintenance of smoke detectors
A. After installation, keep manufacturers’ documentation and refer to for replacement
schedule. Many detectors have a lifespan of 10 years and need to be replaced.
B. If the detector is battery operated, a new, fresh battery should be installed every 6
months or based on manufacturers’ recommendations. If a chirping sound is heard
before six months, replace the battery.
C. Never paint or cover detectors
D. Vacuum detector monthly, using an upholstery brush, to remove dust
E. Test detectors monthly and whenever the batteries have been changed
F. Detectors with an integrated, non-replaceable battery have a 10 year lifespan and
should be discarded at the end of their life-span. If they chirp, indicating a low
battery, the detector should be replaced immediately
G. Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the a detector activating and
practices evacuating when the sound is heard.
IV. Installation practical (local option)
A. Replace battery
B. Clean detector using vacuum
C. Test detector
D. Install detector
Active community risk reduction activities, including active smoke detector installation and
testing programs, are critical to lowering the risk of injury and death in home fires in the
community. Smoke detector installation, testing, and maintenance are low cost, proven
effective, and community centered means for improving service while reducing community risk
and are essential functions of the fire service and core activities of the fire fighter that are often
given low priority. At the same time, smoke detector installation and testing programs improve
community relations and integrate both the fire service and community risk reduction into the
fabric of the community.
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