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Waking Effectiveness of Household Smoke and Fire Detection Devices.


pdf icon Waking Effectiveness of Household Smoke and Fire Detection Devices. (54944 K)
Nober, E. H.; Peirce, H.; Well, A. D.; Johnson, C. C.; Clifton, C.

NBS GCR 80-284; 85 p. October 1980.

Fire Journal, Vol. 75, No. 4, 86-91,130, July 1981.

Sponsor:

National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, MD

Available from:

National Technical Information Service
Order number: PB80-127565

Keywords:

adults; fire alarm systems; auditory perception; decibel levels; fire departments; noise (sound); sleep; smoke detectors; wakefulness; residential buildings; human behavior

Abstract:

Normal-hearing, young adults were subjected to home smoke detector alarm signals of 85, 70, and 55 dBA while asleep in their own bedrooms under quiet background conditions. In addition, other adults received 70 and 55 dBA alarm signals masked by window air conditioner background noise. Each person, upon awakening from the alarm signal, was instructed to shut off the alarm and telephone the local fire department. The 85, 70, and 55 dBA alarm levels were all sufficient to awaken the subjects at varying hours of the night and days of the week, under quiet background conditions. While there were statistically significant differences in waking times between 55 dBA and the other two alarm levels, the total times never exceeded 115 seconds for the combined alarm shutoff and the fire department telephone call at any alarm level. With background noise, waking times for the 70 and 55 dBA alarm levels increased (85 dBA not tested). At 70 dBA, the total time for the alarm shutoff and the fire department telephone call ranged from 36 to 119 seconds. At 55 dBA, two persons failed to awaken and one person awakened after the four-minute test termination criteria. For the remaining seven persons, the total time for the combined alarm shutoff and the fire department telephone call ranged from 45 to 137 seconds.