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Smoke Alarms

JULY 10, 2012

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff is participating in voluntary standard and code activities for smoke alarms. These activities support CPSC’s strategic goal of reducing the death rate from fire-related causes. Improving the effectiveness of smoke alarms is among the strategies employed by CPSC staff to reduce the fire death rate.

The National Fire Alarm Code (the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 72), Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), and the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) standard, UL 217, Single and Multiple Station Smoke Alarms, are the model codes and standards for smoke alarm performance and safety. CPSC staff will continue to support code and standard activities and to improve the effectiveness of smoke alarms through better detection, alerting, and reliability. Consumer awareness and education regarding smoke alarms will also continue to play an important role in helping to prevent fire deaths

In 1999, there were an estimated 337,300 residential fires resulting in 2,390 civilian deaths. Smoke alarms have successfully prevented thousands of residential fire deaths. Reducing the number of non-working alarms and providing unprotected homes with smoke alarms may produce a further reduction in fire deaths. CPSC staff believes that more effective alarms in residential dwellings could have an even greater impact in reducing deaths.

Additional Information

Letters and Comments:

Press Releases:

Fact Sheets:

Incident Data:

Voluntary Standard and Code Activities:

CPSC Staff Reports, Memoranda and Contracts:

  • CPSC Staff Report: Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Staff’s Statement on EurekaFacts Report on “SCOA Survey Findings from the Washington DC Metro Area Door-to-Door Pilot, Final Submission September 15, 2020” - November 18, 2020
  • CPSC Staff ReportSmoke Alarms - Public Benefits to a Smoke Alarm Performance Evaluation Scheme - December 2015
  • CPSC Staff ReportSmoke Alarms - Evaluating the Need for a Consumer Focused Smoke Alarm Performance System, December 2015
  • CPSC Staff ReportSmoke Alarm Paradox, Directorate for Engineering Sciences, March 2012
  • CPSC Staff ReportSmoke Alarms - Pilot Study of Nuisance Alarms Associated with Cooking, Directorate for Engineering Sciences, March 2010
  • CPSC Staff ReportSmoke Alarms - Pilot Study of Nuisance Alarms Associated with Cooking (Abridged), CPSC Directorate for Engineering, March 2010
  • CPSC Staff Report2004•2005 National Sample Survey of Unreported Residential Fires, Directorate for Epidemiology, July 2009
  • Contractor ReportApplying State-of-the-Art Technologies to Reduce Escape Times from Fires using Environmental Sensing, Improved Occupant Egress Guidance, and Multiple Communication Protocols(NRL/MR/6180--09-9174) by the Naval Research Laboratory for the USCPSC, February 6, 2009
  • Contractor ReportThe Implementation and Demonstration of Flame Detection and Wireless Communications in a Consumer Appliance to Improve Fire Detection Capabilities by the Naval Research Laboratory for the USCPSC, June 8, 2007
  • CPSC Staff ReportThe Audibility of Smoke Alarms in Residential Homes - (September 2005 - Revised January 2007)
  • CPSC Staff ReportConsiderations for Installation of Smoke Alarms on Residential Branch Circuits - (October, 2005)
  • CPSC Staff ReportPossible Technologies for Improving the Audibility of Residential Smoke Alarms for Older Adults - (September, 2005)
  • A Review of the Sound Effectiveness of Residential Smoke Alarms - (December, 2004)
  • Contractor Report on The Implementation and Demonstration of Wireless Communications Capabilities in Off-the-Shelf, Battery-Powered Smoke Alarms Phase II Report - (March 23, 2004)
  • Contractor Report on Smoke Alarms, Low-Cost Batteries, and Wireless Technology Technical Report: Phase I - Preparatory Study and Literature Search - (August 29, 2003)
  • Final Report on Lithium Batteries (UltraLife, ANSI 1604) Used in Residential Smoke Alarms - December 2, 2002
  • Preliminary Test Results on Lithium Batteries Used in Residential Smoke Alarms - (June 28, 2002)
  • Consumer Product Safety Review: Winter 2004

Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

  • For further information concerning UL 217 Standard for Single and Multiple Station Smoke Alarms , please contact Diane Haithcock at

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