Evaluation of Smoke Detector Response Estimation Methods

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2003-12-16

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Approximation methods exist to provide estimates of smoke detector response based on optical density, temperature rise, and gas velocity thresholds. The objective of this study was to assess the uncertainty associated with these estimation methods. Experimental data was used to evaluate recommended alarm thresholds and to quantify the associated error. With few exceptions, less than 50 percent of the predicted alarm times occurred within ± 60 seconds of the experimental alarms. At best, errors of 20 to 60 percent (in under-prediction) occurred for smoldering fires using an optical density threshold. For flaming fires, errors in predicted alarm times on the order of 100 to 1000 percent in over-prediction of the experimental alarms were common. Overall, none of the approximation methods distinguished themselves as vastly superior. Great care must be exercised when applying these approximation methods to ensure that the uncertainty in the predicted alarm times is appropriately considered.

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