Issues with False Smoke Alarm Activiations in new construction

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    • #10778
      Delbert BlakneyDelbert Blakney
      Participant
      • City: Kingston
      • Department Name: Kingston Fire & Rescue

      Hi Everyone,

      In Kingston we are experiencing a high number of false alarms in new construction (new homes that are 1 to 3 years old and have multiple interconnected smoke alarms).  The smoke alarms are activing for no apparent reason.  Sometimes by the time we arrive the smoke alarms have all reset and their is no way of identifying which alarm caused the alarm.  In other cases one will have a red light and may or may not go back into alarm once reset.

      We are starting to track the smoke alarms and circumstances in an effort to get a handle on the false alarms.  The Kidde 3 in 1 LED Strobe and 10 year talking smoke& carbon monoxide alarm model P4010ACLEDSCOCA has been the culprit a few times.  Interested in learning if others are experiencing these issues, lessons learned, recommendations etc.

      Thanks for your assistance.

      Del

    • #10779
      Al BastienAl Bastien
      Participant

      Hi Del,

      I can definitely tell you two stories…

      A buddy of mine is in construction and used the BRK 710BSL in his home three years ago. He told me the story of in the middle of the night having them go off and no indication of what caused it and didn’t know how to identify which one had gone into alarm. This model is already discontinued.

      I just built a home two years ago and have a total of eight of the Kidde P4010ACLEDSCO-2 and P4010ACLEDSCA interconnected alarms installed. Just two and a half weeks ago, I had mine go off in the middle of the night. This model is normally green when it is normal but if you look at each one, it will blink from green to red once every 16 seconds to indicate that it has been activated. You push the test button (which sets them all into test) to clear it. It was in my 10 year old daughters room and no indication as to why.

      So yes…there is something amiss with these units I suspect.

      All of that being said, I railed against these units when the Ontario Building Code adopted them and after having experienced exactly what I said was going to happen first hand, I can tell you that there ought to be an allowance to remove the strobe component. 177cd in the middle of the night flashing out of sync for up to 45 seconds, while trying to find your way out of your bedroom and up the stairs to your children’s rooms where they are panicking because they are temporarily blinded by the light flashing in their dark room is absolutely ridiculous. Much more effective methods of waking those that are hearing impaired.

      We did the math at one point – we took the most recent available number of fatal residential fires in Ontario (the only province that requires them BTW) x Percentage of fires that occurred between 10pm and 6am (which is why they wanted them for when people were sleeping) x Percentage that occurred where a working fire alarm was found in the home upon responding x percentage of the population that are said to be hearing impaired in Canada = 0.7 lives.

      Now that is assuming that the person that we’re looking at in this formula doesn’t become a fatality for any other reason other than they didn’t hear the smoke alarm activate (smoke inhalation, trip and fall, instantaneous death due to the origin of the fire, etc.). Is that truly worth the risk to the majority of the population who are forced to put these in their homes by the building code and then maintain them for the rest of their lives under the fire code? It is going to be far more likely to cause fatalities (children hiding from the light, disorientation, etc) for residents plus the fact the suppression crew must face a potential disco in the smoke on arrival.

      I’m not saying that every life doesn’t count – but that’s precisely my point – every life should be taken into account before mandating items like these.

      I’m curious if any others have the same concerns.

    • #10781

      i was told that if you dont power them up correctly, this can happen. they have to be connected to 120 power first, then the battery activated, then the test button needs to be pushed to sync with the other units. i have been to numerous new builds with kidde alarms and in just about every one that was the case

    • #10782
      Craig BennettCraig Bennett
      Participant

      Hey Guys,

      Same problem with the same model Delbert. They tend to activate for no reason and usually in the middle of the night.

      Funny thing, if you look at the model on Home Depot, the reviewers have a common theme in their comments which echoes what we are saying.

      Take Care

    • #10786
      John WilsonJohn Wilson
      Participant
      • Department Name: Perth Fire Services

      Nick is exactly right.  While I haven’t read the instructions myself for these alarms, I was told this same information from a landlord and his electrician who ended up reading the instructions to figure out exactly this issue. I have not crossed this issue with any other detectors besides the Kidde. Then again, these are the alarms that 90% of the new construction use.

      What I can’t figure out is how the alarms know it is the middle of the night to go off for false activation when there is no clock in them. There seems to be an unproportionally high number of them from the middle of the night (like midnight to 3am)

    • #10788
      Al BastienAl Bastien
      Participant

      I do know that there is a built in light sensor in the Kidde smoke alarms. The “intent” is that the unit learns over a period of time when to dim the power on light during the night. I do wonder if this feature somehow has something to do with it causing problems during the night time more often then not.

      I can tell you that I installed my units myself in my own construction and the power up cycle was followed…still had them go off in the night.

      Here’s what the manual for the unit says:

      Ambient Light Sensing
      During low light ambient conditions, the green LED will reduce in brightness and intensity. The unit samples the ambient light conditions of the alarm’s location and, if possible, determines a Night/Day cycle.

      A valid Night/Day cycle will inhibit Low Battery chirps at night. It will also inhibit End of Unit Life chirps at night if the unit is within the first 30 days of the End of Unit Life period. After 30 days, the chirps will not be inhibited.

    • #12780
      Duncan RydallDuncan Rydall
      Participant

      Greetings,

      Suspected issues with most new builds are that the contractors are installing the devices ahead of the cleaners…BRK sent me a power point that I can send to OMFPOA admin to upload if they want it. The drywall and construction dust can take couple days to settle in a new build after clean up. Partnering with building officials to hold off on granting occupancy until the places are finished, cleaned and literally the dust settles before installing the life safety devices are worthy of preventing false alarms. The last big new subdivision in our municipality we were attending every few days until we had the onsite contractor go and clean the smokes throughout the subdivision. And no more false alarms in the last 6 weeks.

      If anyone whats the power point send me an email [email protected]

       

    • #14028

      Hi all,

      It has been a while since there were any posts on this topic. We have responded to 5 false alarms in one neighbourhood recently. We are going to work with our building department to address the root cause, however, I was hoping to check in and see if anybody has additional advice regarding the potential cause of the nuisance activations/faulty units? Seemingly, improper start up of the unit and / or accumulations of dust and dirt during the building process can both cause these problems. Any tips as to how you have addressed them would be appreciated.

      [email protected]

      Kristy

      • #14121
        Brad ReynoldsBrad Reynolds
        Participant

        I would like to provide first hand experience with Kidde Model P4010ACLEDSCA Smoke and Strobe. Currently my home has 9 of these. Since 2017 (approx 10 months after moving into new construction) I have experienced 17 false alarms where a device activates then stops after one cycle of beeps (as if the test button was pressed) The red led indicates the alarm that had activated and needs to be reset by pressing the test button.

        Of the 9 devices installed, I have received multiple replacements from Kidde. Some of the new devices have also gone into alarm (rule out the contractors) and they have all been installed in accordance with the established procedures. Kidde has not admitted any fault with their devices, they have indicated the devices need to be ‘blown out with compressed air’ The operating instructions indicate this (or vacuumed) needs to be done once a year. The have all been removed, vacuumed, reinstalled, and tested with each time change.

        The last 6 false activations have seen a newer 2nd generation model sent out by Kidde as a replacement. These are model # P4010ACLEDSCA-2 and the ones I have received have manufacture dates appearing after January 2020. The 2nd generation models have not yet experienced any false alarms.

        One instance while returning home from the fire hall, my portable radio alerted for “alarms activated” at my address. My kids had evacuated and called 911 like they have been trained. My security cameras capture that the alarms stop before the children were at the meeting place.

        Sadly the frequency of false alarms is leading to a complacency when they go off. When I’m home, I sweep the house quickly checking each device. My kids, when alone and the smoke alarms activate , evacuate the house first, pause, and listen. If the devices are continuing to alarm, they call 911. If the devices have stopped they call me.

        • #14711
          Doug KellamDoug Kellam
          Participant

          We are seeing this issue in Brant with the P4010ACLEDSCA-2 having activations with no apparent cause. All are in new builds.
          I am gathering the info, but at this stage, it’s a sizeable nuisance for our paid-on-call crews. Have yet to hear about any recalls for these units.

    • #14049
      David HribarDavid Hribar
      Participant
      • City: Ajax
      • Department Name: Ajax Fire and Emergency Services

      We’ve encountered the same issue in Ajax within the past two (2) months in a new subdivision installed with First Alert model 7020BSLA. Middle of the night activations. In one case, the family told me their 3 year old daughter was afraid to return to her bedroom because of the flashing light. In each case the homeowner reached out to First Alert (BRK) for a replacement unit.

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