Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is making sweeping changes to smoke detector design standards that have pervasive implications for commercial buildings across Central Florida.  New installations of fire alarm systems will need to use a new type of smoke detector within the next few years, and ultimately every smoke detector connected to a fire alarm system will need to be replaced.

These new smoke detector standards from UL are born from the challenge of quickly recognizing fires from modern building materials as well as the long-standing need to reduce nuisance false alarms.  By June 30, 2022, all manufacturers of fire alarms must be selling devices that meet these new standards.  The first smoke detector company to manufacture devices that do meet these new UL standards was Edwards Systems Technology, a leading provider of fire alarm, mass notification and hazard systems devices.  Watch this informative video about their new smoke alarm technology by clicking on the picture below.

There are two key drivers for UL’s new smoke detector standards.  First, new types of synthetic materials are being used in building construction and in furniture.  These materials burn much faster than traditional materials, often with minimal smoke, so smoke detectors need to be able to recognize these types of fires with fewer particulates than traditional smoke detectors.  Second, the false alarm rate of smoke detectors in areas of smoke-like airborne particulates is very high.  Cooking smoke, dust, pollen, steam, high humidity and chemical vapors are just some of the sources of particulates that erroneously set off smoke alarms.  Building owners and operators pay the price with unhappy tenants/occupants and fire company false alarm dispatch charges.

The exact date by which building owners and operators must make the complete transition to this new class of smoke detectors will be determined by the version of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 72 standard that your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in Central Florida has adopted.  There is no ambiguity that it will be a requirement within the next few years.

In Central Florida, Edwards smoke detector and fire alarm devices are available through a limited number of companies.  Casselberry’s Signature Systems of Florida is the largest locally owned distributor of Edwards products, providing installation, test & inspection, service and consultation to well-known institutions in the greater Orlando area.  For more information on these new devices and the UL mandate, contact Phil Lutes, President, at Signature Systems of Florida (407) 644-8990.