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Zarzaur Law P.A.

Beware–Smoke Detectors are not created equally

There are approximately 400,000 home fires per year and these result in approximately 3,500 deaths per year. Many people purchase, install and maintain smoke detectors for years thinking they and their families are being protected. In about 30% of the home fire deaths each year happen in homes where smoke detectors are present and in operation.

The smoke detector market is comprised of ionization, photo-electric and a unit that has a combination of these technologies. Ionization detectors are the most common and have become the most affordable which makes them most popular. These ionization detectors are designed to detect the amount of ions within the air surrounding the detector. The number of these particles in the air increases in certain fire situation. If there is such an increase in these particles, then the ionization chamber in the detector will trigger the alarm.

Photoelectric detectors work by detecting the same particles but instead of measuring a quantity of the ions, photoelectric detectors use a photo sensor to detect the presence of any of these particles. The mere presence of any such particles as opposed to the measure of a quantity of ions is the main difference in these detectors.

Both of these technologies have been around for over 25 years and research has concluded that photoelectric have been shown to be better for slower smoldering fires and ionization detectors are better for fast flaming fires especially if there is an accelerate involved. Testing has shown that with slow, smoldering fires Ionization detectors are up to 30 minutes slower in alarming when mounted next to photoelectric detectors.

The two most common causes of house fires are cooking issues and electrical fires. Cooking mishaps are typically fast flaming fire issues. These would be best detected by ionization detectors. On the other hand, electrical fires are typically slow smoldering fires and are best detected with photoelectric detectors. So, the best thing to do for your family is to purchase both types or a combination unit.

Many of the companies have known for years about the difference in these technologies. Despite this knowledge, these companies have continued to market “smoke” detectors as all being the same. Mr. Zarzaur has prosecuted product liability cases against these manufacturers since they have failed to adequate inform the public of this big difference in technologies. Instead, the companies have been able to very cheaply produce the ionization detectors for years and because of, economies of scale, make more profits from selling the ionization detectors despite it not being in the best interest of the consuming public.

If you or a loved one has questions about these detectors or has been involved in a situation where a home fire caused injury or death, please contact Zarzaur Law either by phone 855-hirejoe or on the web at