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Easy-reach smoke-alarm cutoff

Put the button where I can reach it
  [vote for,

Smoke alarms are mounted high up on the wall or ceiling - 'because that's where the smoke goes! - and the test button (and the "hush" button for cancelling afalse alarm) is on the unit itself.

It would be better to have a system of interconnected alarms (with battery backup) with the hush button within easy reach. Maybe above the light switch in each room - high up enough that you wouldn't hit it by mistake, but not so high that you need to stand on a chair or get a broom handle to reach it.

It's possible this already exists in some homes and I haven't seen it - or maybe there's some reason not to do it this way.

kdf, Sep 01 2020

Disposal of smoke alarms https://www.michiga...chap10_313428_7.pdf
Not a problem as long as they use americium instead of radium [kdf, Sep 02 2020]

Do smoke smoke alarms save lives? https://www.nfpa.or...g/ossmokealarms.pdf
[kdf, Sep 02 2020]

Kidde Smoke Alarm with remote test/hush control https://www.bulbspr...ttery-operated.html
[kdf, Sep 02 2020]

Smoke alarm design & power consumption. https://www.youtube...&ab_channel=EEVblog
[bs0u0155, Sep 04 2020]


       // maybe there's some reason not to do it this way. //   

       Construction cost; homebuilder saves money at cost of inconvenience to homebuyer/owner.
8th of 7, Sep 01 2020

       Could voice recognition respond to a set of hollered commands, like "Hey you, on the ceiling! Are you alive?" and when it shrieks at you, you can yell "OK SHUT UP!!"
whatrock, Sep 01 2020

       I think this is more easily achieved with a smart wi-fi enabled alarm and an app of some sort.
tatterdemalion, Sep 01 2020

-8th of 7, Sep 01 2020

       Well, sure, but apart from that? Here in Michigan, new construction requires smoke alarms to be hardwired and interconnected - so the wiring as is already in place. Relocating the test/cutoff button shouldn’t be cost prohibitive - it would just rule out mass- market, hardware store models. The only catch I can see is that the law also requires “Wiring shall be permanent and without a disconnecting switch other than those required for overcurrent protection” so the test and cutoff switch would have to be implemented in a way that they couldn’t permanently disable the system.   

-tatterdemalion, Sep 01, 2020

       No thank you - even though those already exist (Google/Nest and others sell them). The law already requires hardwired power and interconnections. Adding WiFi means even more cost (Nest units start at $119 each) and another possible point of failure.
kdf, Sep 02 2020

       Lower the ceiling
pocmloc, Sep 02 2020

       Or raise the floor ...
8th of 7, Sep 02 2020

       //No thank you - even though those already exist (Google/Nest sells them)// - another reason not to use this is it will tell Google when your house is on fire. Google will then start pushing advertising at you targeted at people who've lost all their possessions in a catastrophic fire.
hippo, Sep 02 2020

       what everybody else said
pashute, Sep 02 2020

       In Poland they construct the buildings so that when you order the elevator to the ground floor, the building comes down.
pashute, Sep 02 2020

       "... when you order the elevator to the ground floor, the building comes down."
-pashute, Sep 02 2020

       Convenient for firefighters too, no need for a ladder truck.
kdf, Sep 02 2020

       // In Poland they construct the buildings so that when you order the elevator to the ground floor, the building comes down.// Shouldn't the building come up ?
FlyingToaster, Sep 02 2020

       A pull cord might be a practical solution. You could pull it right off and into a convenient waste bin. Except it's radioactive waste, so disposing of them by the book would probably cost $1000. Even in death they're irritating.   

       Banning domestic smoke alarms would save lives and benefit society as a whole.
bs0u0155, Sep 02 2020

       Modern smoke detectors usually don't present a radioactive waste disposal problem (link). There are two types of materials commonly found in smoke detectors:   

       • The older models may contain a non-exempt radium-226 source that is regulated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. These detectors should not go to a solid waste landfill but be returned to the manufacturer or disposed as radioactive waste.   

       • Newer models may contain a small americium-241 source. The combined smoke detector and americium source are specifically exempted in the federal regulations allowing homeowners to dispose individual detectors in a sanitary landfill. Large quantities, such as those collected during a major construction renovation or hazardous waste collection project should not be disposed without first checking with officials of the NRC or Radiological Protection Program staff.
kdf, Sep 02 2020

       "Banning domestic smoke alarms would save lives..."
-bs0u0155, Sep 02 2020

       Disagree. From (link): "The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms (12.3 deaths per 1,000 fires), either because no smoke alarm was present or an alarm was present but did not operate), as it was in homes with working smoke alarms (5.7 per 1,000 fires)."
kdf, Sep 02 2020

       1: I read about an experiment that (as far as the subjects knew) was about sleep patterns; but was actually testing smoke alarms (which were set off at a random time of the night). Something like (IIRC) 30% of people slept on through the alarm...
2: Similarly, a guy was saved from a fire by his smoke alarm. Not from the sound of it going off, but from the ceiling mount melting and it (conveniently) falling on his head while he slept. Moral: mount your smoke alarm directly over your bed.
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 02 2020

       Hmmm... It looks like Kidde / First Alert makes (or used to make) a smoke alarm with a remote test/hush button. I'm only finding it on Canadian websites though, and nobody seems to have it in stock. Not sure if I need yet another key fob thing powered by AAA batteries though.
kdf, Sep 02 2020

       //Disagree. From (link): "The death rate per 1,000 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms...//   

       Well, here's my argument. With some numbers. The NFPA requires a smoke alarm for every sleep room, one outisde each sleep room, one on every level and one for the kitchen I think. So, for me, that's 10, all interconnected and mains powered with a 9V battery back up in each. While messing about with a power meter, I noticed that even with everything in the house turned off, my house was still using 55W or so. This turned out to be the smoke alarms, on the back they say 4W/ea, but that's within measurement error.   

       That level of power consumption is pretty standard at least looking around the hardware store. So, I unplugged one. The battery still in, it continued to work/annoy me for well over a year on the cheapest possible 9V battery. Those are typically ~500mAh, 15000J or so. So the mains power supply on these things is a staggeringly poor 0.004% efficient.   

       If, like code specifies, these are built into every house, let's say it's a perfect world and all 150m US households have 10 like me. That's an astonishing 7500 MW of additional baseload, or 12 whole average power stations*.   

       If that's true, then at 600 staff/station then 7200 people are working just to power the alarms. Add in the people working in oil, gas & coal extraction, some of the most dangerous jobs. Then we have an awful lot of person- years thrown away to save some lives, how many?   

       As a quick estimate, the US has about 2500 fire-related deaths/year. Of which large wildfires are often more than half. Of the remainder, cooking fires are a big component. A reasonable estimate of the sort of events where a smoke alarm might help, i.e. at night & person isn't intoxicated, I think is about 250.   

       Even if I'm off by 10-fold on both sides of the equation i.e. only 1 power station with 600 people working is required to save 2500 people/year, that's still an astonishingly poor return compared to say, just not building houses out of tinder wrapped with Tyvek. That's before the more difficult to quantify risks from CO2 and other pollutants including the radiation released from coal burning.   

       *If they're oil/gas/coal-fired, then that means the fire protection equipment is powered by a series of massive fires.
bs0u0155, Sep 04 2020

       bs0u0155, your analysis is incomplete. You didn’t me what your total electric usage is, so there’s no way to tell what portion your “55 watts or so“ of smoke alarms account for in your total energy budget. Worse though - you outlined costs of smoke alarm energy usage and suggested it might be better to change how houses are built. But where’s your analysis of costs, environmental impact, etc. for fireproofing (or replacing) all existing houses and implementing new building standards going forward?
kdf, Sep 05 2020

       Well, all analyses are incomplete. My main points are a: not very many people die in domestic fires. b: Smoke alarms are protective in a fraction of those cases, & c: the implementation at the moment is so catastrophically wasteful that's it's better to not do it.
bs0u0155, Sep 05 2020

       Stuff and nonsense. Tell me your alternatives, what they’ll and how many lives they’ll save - else “catastrophically wasteful” are just big words. But in the meantime you’re welcome to remove the smoke alarms from your own place if it makes you happy.
kdf, Sep 05 2020


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