Fire Protection Systems

Smoke Detectors:

Six out of ten residential fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms.
About 94% of U.S. homes have smoke alarms, but up to one-third of the alarms are not working properly.


  • There are 2 Types of smoke alarms:
    • Ionization alarms are activated when the electrical current inside them is changed by smoke. Ionization smoke alarms respond most quickly to heat and flame, so they are best at detecting fast spreading fires.
    • Photoelectric smoke alarms are triggered when smoke particles redirect a beam of light inside the unit. These alarms can detect the smoke from a smoldering fire before flames appear.
  • It is a good idea to have some ionization and some photoelectric alarms in your home. There are some units that use both types of sensors.
  • Placement is very important:
    • Install smoke alarms either on the ceiling, 4 to 12 inches from the wall, or high on a wall, 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling.
    • Install them at least 3 feet from windows or air ducts.
    • Do not install an alarm between an air duct and a door.
    • Make sure you can reach alarms to test them and change batteries.
    • Place at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement.
    • Install a smoke alarm within 15 feet of sleeping areas. (For extra safety, install one inside each bedroom)
    • Do not install alarms in the kitchen, garage, bathroom, or workshop. Cooking fumes, steam, and other air particles can create false alarms and/or damage the alarm's detector.


  • Dust can cause false alarms. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove dust and cobwebs.
  • Test alarms monthly.
  • Replace batteries twice a year or when you hear the low battery "chirp". (daylight savings time is an easy-to-remember time do it)
  • Never borrow the battery from the smoke alarm for another use.
  • If fumes or steam cause a false alarm, do not remove the battery. Fan the fumes away from the smoke alarm and open a window.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 7 to 10 years. Write the installation date inside the alarm's cover to remind you of its age.
  • For more information on Smoke Alarms, see the US Fire Administration web site.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors:

Every year, 1,500 people die of CO poisoning and 10,000 others need medical attention because of it. CO poisoning is a real threat, one that you cannot see, smell, or taste, but that you CAN prevent.

  • The following machines can produce CO if they do not have enough fresh air flowing around them. If CO builds up near you or your family, you can be poisoned, injured or even killed.
    • Non-electric, fuel-fired furnaces.
    • Gas water heaters, stoves, and dryers.
    • Gas-powered generators.
    • Fireplaces, woodstoves, and charcoal grills.
    • Lawnmowers, snowblowers, leafblowers, etc...
    • Cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
  • Never run your vehicle in the house or garage (even if the garage doors are open).
  • Do not use a charcoal grill or gas-powered generator inside a house, tent, or other enclosed space.
  • Prevent CO buildup by maintaining your equipment.
    • A blocked or leaking chimney, or an undersized vent on a furnace or water heater can lead to CO buildup in your home.
    • If you have a new appliance installed, make sure that the venting system is adequate.
    • Have your heating system professionally inspected every year. Only a trained expert can make sure that there are no leaks in the heating equipment vents.
    • Have other fuel-burning appliances, like your stove or dryer, inspected from time to tome to be sure that they are receiving fresh air.
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms may be battery-powered or current-powered (plug in). It is good to have both types in your home.
  • At a minimum, place one carbon monoxide alarm near all sleeping areas.
  • It is also good to install them on each level of a home.
  • Like smoke detectors, put some on or near the ceiling.
  • Do not install CO alarms within 15 feet of heating or cooking appliances, or in very damp areas such as bathrooms.
  • If a CO alarms sounds, do not panic!
    • Find out if anyone is feeling sick (symptoms: headache, sleepiness, nausea, and dizziness)
      • If anyone is experiencing symptoms, leave the house immediately!
      • Use a neighbor's phone to call the Fire Department.
    • If no one is feeling sick, you may not need to call the Fire Department.
    • Turn off any fuel-burning appliances.
    • Open windows for ventilation, and reset the alarm.
    • If it sounds again or will not reset, have a heating and ventilation professional check your home as soon as possible.
  • For more information on Carbon Monoxide Alarms, see the US Fire Administration web site.


Fire Extinguishers:

Using a portable fire extinguisher takes knowledge and training. Before you consider using an extinguisher, there is are things you need to know. Purchase the right unit and learn how to use it, but be ready to let the experts take over, because fire is a powerful and deadly enemy.

  • Classes of Fire
        Ordinary Materials (wood, paper, etc.): The number on the unit's label shows the size of fire it can handle

        Flammable Liquids (grease, gasoline, etc.): The number on the label tells how many square feet of fire the extinguisher can put out.

        Live (plugged in) Electrical Equipment: The extinguishing agent will not conduct electricity.

        Combustible Metals: These are found in industry and in laboratories.

      High-temperature Cooking Equipment Using Grease and Oil: These are found in restaurants. Most can be used safely on Class A, B, and C fires.
  • Placement
    • Wherever you have flammables
      • In the Kitchen
      • In the Garage
      • In the Workshop
    • Near Exits
    • Away from heat sources
    • Easy for adults to see and reach (but out of the reach of children)
  • Know How to Use Them

Note: First call the fire department!

    • Only use an extinguisher if you are comfortable operating it.
    • Make sure you can control the unit easily; if not, make a safe escape.
    • To use a fire extinguisher correctly, remember the word PASS:
      • Pull the pin. The pin is at the top of the unit near the operating lever or button
      • Aim low. Point the extinguisher's nozzle, horn, or hose at the base of the fire.
      • Sweep from side to side. Aim at the base of the fire. Move carefully toward the fire if it seems to be going out
  • Is it Safe to Stay and Fight the Fire?

    Please remember: It is more important to have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and a safe escape plan that the whole family knows. A fire extinguisher may be safe to use if:

    • The fire department has been called.
    • The fire is small and contained. If the fire is spreading, LEAVE.
    • You know what is burning, and you have the right class of fire extinguisher. If you use the wrong class of extinguisher, you could spread the fire or cause an explosion.
    • You know how to use the extinguisher.
    • Everyone has left the area or is leaving. Only the person using the extinguisher should stay.
    • You have an easy-to-reach exit at your back. If smoke fills the room, or the fire spreads, GET OUT. Close the doors behind you, but do not lock them.


Automatic fire sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire by 82% when compared to having neither. --NFPA

  • Sprinkler Myths

    Often homeowners are reluctant to install sprinklers because they do not know the facts about how they operate
    Myth: The water damage from sprinklers is worse than a fire Fact: A sprinkler activates during the early stages of a fire before it grows and spreads. A sprinkler will control or extinguish a fire with a tiny fraction of the water that would be used by the Fire Department hoses. Only the sprinkler closest to the fire will activate, spraying water directly on the fire and not the rest of the house Sprinklers go off accidentally, causing unnecessary water damage Fact: Accidental sprinkler discharge is extremely rare. One study concluded that home sprinkler accidents are generally less likely and less severe than standard home plumbing mishaps. Contrary to what you see in the movies, burned toast and cigarette smoke will not trigger the sprinkler. Each sprinkler works independently and only in response to fire Fact: Modern residential sprinklers are inconspicuous and can be mounted flush with walls or ceilings. Some sprinklers can even be concealed. Residential sprinkler pipes are hidden behind walls and ceilings, just like regular plumbing Myth: If there is a fire, all the sprinklers in the house will activate flooding my entire house Fact: Despite what you see in the movies, the only sprinkler head that will open during a fire, is the head immediately in contact with the fire.
  • What do sprinkler heads look like?

    Graphics from "Protect What
    You Value Most" - HFSC

  • How do home fire sprinklers work?

    Sprinklers are linked by a network of piping, typically hidden behind walls and ceilings and usually drawing upon household water sources.

                       Graphics from "Protect What You Value Most"-HFSC

    Click here to see a clip of the difference between a sprinkler controlled fire and a non-sprinkler controlled fire. 

  • What does installation of a sprinkler cost?

    Home fire sprinkler systems often cost less than cabinet upgrades, new carpeting and many other options in new home construction. A good rule of thumb estimate is to add 1 to 1-1/2 percent to the cost of new housing.

    When you consider the degree of built-in reliability and responsiveness that home fire sprinklers offer, the investment is a wise one. ("Protect What You Value Most" - HFSC)

The NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiave has put together a report on the cost of an average residential sprinkler system.  For more information or to read the report you can go to

  • Are there any insurance benefits to installing a residential sprinkler system?

You should check with the your insurance carrier to see what benefits or discounts they may have in place for installing a residential sprinkler system in your home.

Reports conducted by the NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative show that discount saving percentages ranged from 0 to 10% among all companies and agencies surveyed, with an average discount savings percentage premium of 7%.

For more information or to review the report, you can go to

  • Additional Sprinkler Information