In April of 2003 our family lost Andrea in an off-campus fire. Two years later Doug Turnbull also lost his college-age daughter, Julie, in an off-campus fire. We live in the same city and our families became friends. Doug and I later learned that there are two type of smoke alarms. I have been researching smoke alarms ever since. Doug and I decided to start educating fire officials and the public, that is why others named us the “fathers for fire safety.” That said, let me cut to the chase, ionization alarms are probably what you have in your home now. They are seriously flawed. If you read no farther than this, replace your alarms with photoelectric alarms. This simple advice can save your family.
Here is a recent video that was shown recently on national television. At the end of this video they will comment not to throw away your ionization alarm but to add either a single station photoelectric alarm or a dual sensor alarm. Honestly, you cannot trust the performance of dual sensor alarms. The manufactures made these with the intent of taking advantage of the controversy associated with ionization alarms. The largest fire organization in the world the International Association of Firefighters (300,000 members) is very straight forward on this issue; they tell you to replace your ionization alarm with a photoelectric alarm.
The controversy surrounding ionization alarms is that they have been known to fail in rooms full of smoke. Numerous tests have revealed that they sometimes sound 30-60 minutes after photoelectric alarms in smoke filled rooms. They also have been involved in wrongful fire-death lawsuits. Lastly, ionization alarms also have nuisance alarm problems and people often disable them. They might go off when you use your toaster, but they might not go off if you have an electrical short behind your walls when you are sleeping. Save your money and your family by installing photoelectric alarms.