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Our local Fire Department (Avon Fire and Rescue) is currently (February 2008) doing free home fire safety visits, to discuss fire prevention, free supply and installation of fire alarms, and advice as to what to do if there is a fire in the home.
They have supplied and fitted two fire alarms (for free), the Ei 100TYC Ionisation smoke alarm with lithium 10 year batteries, which this review will be about, and considering they are supplied by the fire brigade, that in itself must be a positive endorsement.
In view of the fact that fire is a serious thing, and if by reading this review, it saves just one life, then my job has been done effectively. I will therefore split this review into two parts. Firstly, general information about fire and what to do if you encounter one, and secondly, about the smoke alarm itself.
Like I have said already, our local Fire Department visited us with three fire personnel (two males in uniform and one female in uniform in case you were wondering) and a fire engine. That in itself got the neighbours talking, and my son and daughter were very impressed.
PROPORTION OF FIRES IN SEPARATE ROOMS
Kitchen - 46% Bedroom, Bedsit - 15% Living Room, Dining Room - 14% Access Area - 5% Ashpit, Refuse Area - 4% Store - 2% Bathroom, Cloakroom, WC - 2% Roof Space, Laundry, Airing Cupboard - 1% each
The presence of smoke in escape routs is the greatest impediment to safe escape in the event of fire and therefore smoke alarms should be installed in the circulation areas.
Approximately 46% of domestic fires start in kitchens and it is essential that a smoke alarm be sited in any adjacent circulation space.
Fires started by smokers' materials are the most common cause of fatalities, therefore, occupants known to smoke should have smoke alarms fitted in living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms.
Heating appliances are the second most common cause of fire deaths and particular consideration should be given to installing smoke alarms in the relevant rooms.
Fires caused by electrical appliances and faulty wiring account for about 14% of fires and the use of electric blankets, by high risk groups such as the elderly justify fitting smoke alarms in bedrooms.
A fire strikes when you least expect it, often during the night. It also spreads very rapidly, but smoke is the real killer. If you are asleep when a fire starts and you don't have a smoke alarm to wake you, your chances of surviving are severely reduced. Smoke suffocates quickly and you may be dead before the flames reach you.
Smoke alarms do NOT stop fires, but they do give early warning if a fire does occur.
The Avon Fire and Rescue Service recommend that a 10 year smoke alarm with a built in lithium battery is purchased as this saves concern about annual battery replacement. When purchasing one, ensure it conforms to British Standard 5446 part 1 and that it displays the British kite mark logo.
Avon Fire and Rescue Service also recommends that AT LEAST one smoke alarm is fitted on each level in the home, and that you need to ensure that it is working and tested regularly (ideally once a week). Most alarms are tested by pushing in an obvious test button for a few seconds, until the alarm sounds. Smoke alarms also need cleaning either by wiping with a cloth or using a vacuum cleaner twice a year, to keep the sensor free from dust.
NIGHT TIME ROUTINE
When you go to bed, you do the usual things such as switching off lights. Make sure you have a bedtime fire safety routine to help you and your family keep safe. Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances not designed to stay on (this will save you electricity costs too and you are being green too). Make sure no smoking materials are still burning. Never smoke in bed. Before emptying ashtrays make sure the contents are cold, and close all doors leading onto the escape route.
PLANNING YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE TOGETHER
Waiting for a fire to then plan your escape route can be too late. If a fire occurs in your home you may have to get out in the dark and in difficult conditions. Escaping from a fire will be a lot easier if you have already planned and rehearsed your escape route and know where to go. Make sure that your planned escape route remains free of any obstructions and that there are no loose floor coverings, or anything else that could potentially trip you.
WHAT TO DO IF A FIRE STARTS IN YOUR HOME
Raise the alarm, close the door on the fire, and get out of the house. Call the fire and rescue service from a neighbour's house or a mobile and wait for the firefighters to arrive. On NO ACCOUNT re enter your home.
TYPES OF SMOKE ALARM
BATTERY OPERATED SMOKE ALARMS are low cost and simple to install but the battery is vulnerable to removal and therefore the ability of these smoke alarms to detect a fire some years after initial installation is not considered to be high.
MAINS POWERED SMOKE ALARMS are potentially more reliable than battery operated ones, because they require less attention by the user, but they cost more to install. Also, they suffer the disadvantage that there is no protection when the supply is cut off. If view of this they should be supplied from a dedicated circuit and not a lighting circuit as this could be at risk from fire damage.
MAINS POWERED SMOKE ALARM WITH BACK UP is the best option especially if reliability of the mains supply is not high or disconnection is likely, and it can be connected to a lighting circuit.
TYPES OF DETECTOR
There are two types of smoke detectors commonly used.
IONISATION, which operates on the principle that electrical current flowing between electrodes in an ionization chamber is reduced when smoke particles enter, and they are particularly sensitive to the smoke from fast flaming fires containing small particles.
OPTICAL, which operate by detecting the scattering of light by smoke particles and are sensitive to optically dense smoke… Either type is generally suitable, but the type of fire that may be expected and the need to avoid false alarms, should be taken into account.
Smoke alarms only work if they are capable of arousing the sleeping occupants and a sound level of 85 dB should be achieved at the open doorway to each bedroom and 75 Db at the bedhead in each bedroom with the door shut.
THE SMOKE ALARM ITSELF NOW
The Ei100TYC is an Ionisation Smoke Alarm that runs on a 9V lithium 10 year battery which is supplied with the alarm. Remember that Ionisations uses electrically charged ions that will react to smoke particles. Basically, electrical current flowing between the electrodes in an ionization chamber is reduced when smoke particles enter, giving a rapid response to fast flaming fires.
SENSITIVITY AND APPROVALS
Complies with BS 5446 Part 1:2000, Kitemarked, and CE Approved, fully conforming to BS5839-pt 6 Grade F.
This alarm is battery operated and needs no wiring, except when interconnecting with other similar alarms (see later for details). The unit comes supplied with all necessary screw fixings, and all you need to simply do is place the base on the ceiling or wall exactly where you want to mount the unit, with a pencil, mark the location of the screw holes, drill a hole through the centres of the marked locations, push the plastic screw anchors providing into the drilled holes, and then screw in firmly. Job done.
By simply pressing the test button, it will simulate the effect of smoke and check the chamber, electronics and horn. The same button can be used to silence nuisance alarms.
ALARM SOUND OUTPUT
85dB (minimum) at 3 m - usual talking is 70dB, loud speech or excited children in 90Db, and a chain saw is 110dB.
140 mm x 120 mm x 45 mm
WARNING SYSTEM WHEN BATTERY IS ALMOST DEAD
There is a warning system when the battery is nearing it's end, whereby a short beep will go off every 40 seconds for over 1 hour.
This type of alarm can be wired together such that when one unit senses smoke all other units sound a warning, ensuring that your smoke alarms are heard. A maximum of 250 metres (820 feet) of wire can be used.
As I have already mentioned, my fire alarms were supplied for free by the Avon Fire and Rescue Service, but they can be bought. Prices for this model tend to range from £19.99 to £33.69.
The unit itself comes with a 5 year guarantee
DOES IT WORK?
This is a tricky question. I can tell you that it works in the 'testing' mode, but as I have not experience a real fire, I cannot tell you if it works in real life so to speak, and I do not really want to start a real fire in my home to see if it works. So, my faith is in the Avon Fire and Rescue Service with them saying that it does work effectively.
Ei Electronics deals with Residential Fire Safety Products, and is based in Ireland and employs 300 people. Ei Electronics is a 100% Irish owned private Company. It was established in March 1988 following a Management Buyout from General Electric Company USA - the original General Electric owned operation dates back to 1963.
All business functions, marketing, research, development and manufacturing are located in the company's own 12,000 sq. metre facility in Shannon, Co. Clare, adjacent to Shannon International Airport.
Ei Electronics, Shannon Free Zone, Shannon, Co Clare, Ireland
PHONE AND FAX
Phone 0035361471277, Fax 0035361471053
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