WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Homeowners now have 3 minutes to get out of the house with a fire compared to 17 minutes in the 1970s because of home synthetics, U.S. scientists say.
Tests by the National Institute of Standards and Technology showed newer homes and furnishings are made with more synthetics, which make fires ignite and burn faster because synthetics release more toxic gases when burned.
The NIST report said the National Fire Protection Association and the U. S. Fire Administration found home usage of smoke alarms rose from less than 10 percent in 1975 to at least 95 percent in 2000, while the number of home fire deaths was cut nearly in half.
The Indiana Dunes tests conducted in 1975-1976 clearly demonstrated the potential of smoke alarms to save lives, while the current study followed a design similar to that used in the Indiana Dunes tests -- tests conducted in actual homes, using actual furnishings and actual smoke alarms sold in stores.
The tests found flaming and smoldering upholstered furniture and mattresses account for the top four most deadly fire scenarios, while flaming cooking materials were involved five times more frequently than any other material.
Both ionization and photoelectric alarms provided positive escape times in most fire scenarios, with the ionization type reacting earlier to flaming fires and the photoelectric type reacting earlier to smoldering fires.
Both types of smoke alarms installed on every level generally provided the necessary escape time for different fire types and locations, while adding smoke alarms in bedrooms increased the escape time provided, especially for smoldering fires.