Up In Smoke: New England Arsonists Get Bolder

Up In Smoke: New England Arsonists Get BolderIt was a quiet June day on Dexter Street in Providence, Rhode Island when arsonist Shantey Nared approached a vacant house and set it ablaze. The home next door was also damaged as Shantey fled the scene — thanks to video surveillance, he was later caught and now faces a charge of first-degree arson, according to NBC 10 News.

For New England business and homeowners, however, this kind of daylight arson presents significant risk: how do your protect your property from the unexpected (and often random) crime of arson?

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Fire Safety Tips For Holiday Trees and Ornaments

Fire Safety Tips For Holiday Trees and OrnamentsWhen it comes to lighting your holiday tree, the number one holiday safety tip from fire officials is “never use lighted candles as decorations” — so imagine our concern when we saw this blog post, “How to Put Real Candles on Your Christmas Tree Safely.”

“Real candles on a Christmas tree can be stunningly beautiful, moving, but if you don’t know how to do it safely, it can be very hazardous. If you know how to do it right, it can be a very good and safe experience. Think it’s crazy?” the authors of the post ask.

Yes, here at American Alarm where home and family safety is our top priority, we think it borders on crazy and substantially increases the risk of fire damage or disaster.

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Home Fire Safety: Some Smoke Alarms Go Off Too Late

Did you know there has been a dramatic reduction in fire fatalities and injuries over the last 30 years because more people use smoke alarms? These facts are according to the Underwriters Laboratories study, “Smoke Alarms and the Modern Residence Fire.”

In 1977 home fires caused 5,865 deaths and over 31,000 injuries. This was at a time when only 22% of homes had smoke alarms installed, according to information in the UL report.

In 2009, when over 95% of homes had smoke alarms, the annual death rate attributed to home fires dropped to 2,565, a 56% decline, and injuries dropped by more than 59%. The reduction in deaths during this time has not been entirely attributed to the increased use of smoke alarms, though it is considered a leading factor.

Research now shows that today people have less time to escape a home that’s on fire than they did 30 years ago. That’s because manufacturers of home furnishings have shifted from using natural materials like wood, cotton and wool to synthetic materials like polyurethane foam for padding and synthetic fabric covers that typically ignite more quickly.

These synthetic materials also burn more intensely, release their fire-enabled energy faster, and create more smoke than natural materials. We’ve seen how effective smoke alarms can be in warning occupants of fires but now they have to work even harder to get the job done.

Currently, there are two types of smoke detection technologies available for residential smoke alarms: ionization smoke detection, which is generally more responsive to fires with fast-moving flames, and photoelectric smoke detection, which is usually more responsive to smoldering fires.

The most common type of smoke detectors, the ones based on ionization technology, may not protect your family in a fire, according to a video segment  on the TODAY show by National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen. While they work well to detect fires with fast-moving flames, experts say some of the most deadly fires are the smoldering, smoky kind that can fill your home with toxic gases while you sleep.

In those fires, ionization alarms don’t work well, going off way too late – or not going off at all, Rossen notes. “And that means the individuals could have a fire in their home and never receive a warning,” Don Russell, an engineering professor at Texas A&M who’s run hundreds of tests, tells Rossen. Photoelectric is the way to go in those situations.

For the best protection, the National Fire Protection Association recommends you use both ionization and photoelectric alarms, or an alarm that includes both technologies in a single device, called a dual alarm. New smoke detection technologies are also being developed so manufacturers can produce smoke alarms that react more effectively to fires in today’s homes.

Additionally a home fire alarm system with central station monitoring offers another layer of protection.

The NFPA standard requires that alarm monitoring companies verify within 90 seconds if actual incidents are occurring before they can alert 9-1-1. American Alarm’s average response time is 21 seconds, saving valuable time that can mean protecting your home and family.

From September 1 to September 30, 2012, Underwriters Laboratories sampled approximately 1,000 fire alarm system monitoring accounts. In that month, they received over 68,000 signals, including fire alarm, supervisory, trouble, and test signals.

Of the signals handled by central station operators, only 3.4% required action, and only 0.15% resulted in fire dispatch.

Whether you’re asleep, away from home, or in your home, our 24-Hour Security Command Center is always available, monitoring smoke detectors to respond and send help when it’s needed most.

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Fire Prevention Week: Have Two Ways Out

Did you know that only one-third of Americans have both created and tested a fire escape plan? About three-quarters of Americans take the time to develop escape plans, but less than half of those people actually test them, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

One-third of American households who develop an escape plan estimate they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their homes would become life-threatening. However, they really have much less time to get out, according to a NFPA survey.

Because of the importance placed on escape planning, the theme of the NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week this year is “Have Two Ways Out.” It’s not only important to have a fire escape plan to prepare your family when a fire does occur, but your family must also know what to do if that escape route is blocked by smoke or fire. Read more