Tech Talk Provides Timely Advice
The United States Fire Administration provides many resources to inspectors through training, education, and timely correspondence. Tech Talk provides accurate and timely information on topics of interest to the fire protection community. Topics are selected based on inquiries and suggestions that USFA receives from readers. Recently the second edition of Tech Talk was released and contains great information on disposal of Smoke Alarms.
The need for proper disposal typically occurs after the detectors are replaced (after 10 years). Depending on the type of smoke alarm and where you live may determine if a smoke alarm requires special disposal. Smoke alarms typically are one of two types. The first is photoelectric and the second is ionization type (there are some smoke alarms which contain both technologies). The concern is that ionization type smoke alarms contain a very tiny amount of radiation.
Highlights from the Tech Talk Include:
How to tell the difference
If a smoke detector contains radioactive material, it is required by law to have a warning label on the body of the smoke detector. The label is usually located at the “top” of the detector, facing the mounting base that attaches to the ceiling or wall. Remove the smoke detector from its base, and look at the label. A typical label might read: This product is designed to detect products of combustion using ionization technology. It contains 0.9 microcurie of Americium 241, a radioactive material.
The label may have the international symbol for radiation on the label. If a smoke Detector does not include either the warning or the radiation symbol on the label, and if there is no evidence that the label has been removed or destroyed, it is safe to assume that the device does not contain any radioactive material. If the label has been removed or destroyed, it is best to treat the device as if it is an ionization unit, and dispose of it as described below.
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