Experiments of Smoke Detector Response in Prison Facilities

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DOIResolve DOI: http://doi.org/10.4224/20377893
AuthorSearch for: ; Search for: ; Search for:
TypeTechnical Report
Series titleResearch Report, NRC Institute for Research in Construction; Volume 182
Physical description80 p.
Subjectfire detection, smoke detector, correctional services; Smoke detection
AbstractNuisance fire alarms can be a problem in Canadian correctional facilities when inmates intentionally activate or damage in-cell smoke detectors, which are currently required under the National Building Code of Canada. These alarms result in increased risk to guards and inmates while the detector is out of service, time lost as guards investigate the cause, and significant costs to examine and replace damaged detectors.To find a solution, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) initiated a project with researchers in NRC's Fire Research Program and Ken Richardson Fire Technologies Inc. A series of full-scale tests were set up in temporarily vacated correctional facilities in Kingston, Ontario, to determine if in-cell smoke detectors couldbe moved outside of cells and still provide an equivalent level of fire protection. In particular, the risk to inmates in the cell of fire origin should not exceed critical limits for carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and temperature if the detectors were located outside the cell. Test scenarios were representative of the fires that actually occur in cells, while still posing a reasonable challenge for the detectors expected to respond. These scenarios involved different fire sources (such as CSC-issue mattresses and clothing, and newspaper) for both open-front and closed-front cells. Depending on whether the cell had an open or closed front, the location of the fire source was varied. In all scenarios, fire detection with smoke detectors in an exhaust duct adjacent to a cell was equivalent to that provided by in-cell smoke detectors in both open-front and closed-front cells. Specifically, moving smoke detectors from inside to outsideopen-front cells, to either a duct or the corridor, did not affect reaction times enough to allow critical conditions to build up in the cell where the fire originated. For closed-front cells, only smoke detectors relocated to an exhaust duct provided an equivalent level of fire detection. In some cases with closed-front cells, smoke detectors moved to the corridor allowed critical conditions to build beyond acceptable levels in the cell of fire origin.
Publication date
AffiliationNRC Institute for Research in Construction; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedNo
NRC number16633
NPARC number20377893
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Record identifieraa40dfa2-d0fc-4043-a2e1-567a0003b2f1
Record created2012-07-24
Record modified2016-10-03
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