Palo Alto to push fire safety | October 1, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 1, 2010

Palo Alto to push fire safety

Local and national efforts underway to shift to more-effective photoelectric alarms

by Georgia Wells

In July, Albany, Calif., became the first U.S. city to require photoelectric smoke alarms in all homes sold, rented or renovated. Vermont instituted a similar requirement statewide in 2009.

This story contains 587 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Subscribe

Editorial Intern Georgia Wells can be e-mailed at


Like this comment
Posted by Gordon Simpkinson
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

Please take a moment to review the safety of your home. Look inside your smoke detector, there should be a date there or on the back cover if it was made in the last ten years. Any alarm over ten years old is very likely to malfunction in a fire.

If the alarm is an ionization alarm, I urge you to replace it with photoelectric no matter how old it is, to make sure that you have the best chance of survival if a smoldering fire occurs. You get the best protection if you have a smoke alarm in every bedroom, and one on each floor of the house.

If you have an alarm that annoys you because it goes of when you cook or take a shower, this is almost certainly an ionization alarm, and you'll be far safer and less annoyed with photoelectric.

If you like gadgets like I do, there are now battery operated photoelectric smoke alarms that communicate wirelessly, to give you the earliest possible warning. They are available with built-in carbon monoxide detection as well. They don't interfere with my wireless phones or wi-fi network, and I can test them all by pushing the button on just one of them.

We have much more information, plus a brochure that you can take with you to the store, posted on our web site at Web Link

I hope we'll see you at one of our events on Oct. 3rd or the 9th!

Gordon Simpkinson
Acting Fire Marshal
Palo Alto Fire Department

Please contact us at if you have questions or concerns.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2010 at 9:11 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Residential sprinklers are now affordable. Mention them.

Like this comment
Posted by Adrian Butler
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Attention: All Palo Alto Citizens
Congratulations to your Acting Fire Marshal Gordon Simpkinson, the Palo Alto Fire Department and the media for getting the truth about ionization smoke alarms to the community. It is tragic that some US Government Departments still claim these "deadly" smoke alarms are safe. Here in Australia Fire Departments have acknowledged they have dangerous defects and have not given them out for four years:
The stand Palo Alto and Albany have taken requires guts and integrity. The actions by these brave Fire Departments will eventually save thousands of lives.
Watch 'Smoke Alarm Recall' and discover just how defective ionization smoke alarms really are:
Thank you.
Adrian Butler
The World Fire Safety Foundation
Queensland, Australia

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Rogers
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2010 at 10:19 am

This is a great step forward, but an even bigger step would be to increase the awareness and use of monitored smoke sensors. They can usually be added to your home alarm system for a small investment, and should not add to the monthly fee. If you are way, or more important, if you are overcome by smoke, a monitored system can make the difference. You want the authorities on the way as soon as possible. also if you have pets...

Here is a blog entry that people may find very helpful, about monitored smoke detection.

Web Link

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.