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Lincoln County Home Page > Emergency Management > Safety > Smoke Detectors

Smoke Detectors

Home Fires

Smoke Detectors:

Did you know that there are two types of sensors for smoke alarms? The most common smoke detector is the ionization type, which senses hot fires and smoke. This type is the one that goes off when you burn your toast. This type of smoke detector is installed in 90% of homes with installed smoke detectors. This smoke detector can be identified by the letter "I" (eye) on the smoke detector or its packaging.

The other type of smoke detector is a photoelectric smoke detector. This type of smoke detector "sees" smoke and works better for cooler smoldering fires, such as those produced by burning couches or mattresses. Smoldering fires do not give off as many ions as a hot fire and the ionization detectors will often not go off in time to do much good in a smoldering fire. The photoelectric smoke detector can be identified by the letter "P" (pea) on the smoke detector or its packaging.

There are some brands of smoke detectors that offer a dual purpose smoke detectors that utilizes both types of smoke detection. These can be identified with an "I/P" on the smoke detector or on the packaging, or it may say dual purpose on the packaging. Do not confuse the dual detection (ionization and photoelectric) smoke alarm with the dual sensor (smoke and carbon monoxide) alarms. That is a completely different type of detection device.

It is recommended to utilize a stand alone carbon monoxide detector along with both types of smoke detectors for complete protection for your home and family.

The National Fire Protection Association and United States Fire Administration recommends that you have both types of smoke alarms in your home for total protection. You can install separate smoke alarms on each floor of your home, or purchase a dual purpose smoke alarm. These smoke alarms are readily available in home improvement stores.


It is that time of year when people are going to start building fires in homes for heat.  For your safety, and to prevent home fires, be sure to clean chimneys and stove pipes.  Creosote build up can affect the air flow out of the stove or fireplace and can eventually lead to a fire that may cause substantial damage. Check smoke alarm batteries or install smoke alarms if there are none in the home. Read this article about holiday lights and Christmas Trees, and cooking. Be aware of potential hazards and have a SAFE holiday season.

For more information about home smoke alarms and fire sprinklers, please visit:

FEMA Encourages Americans to Be Prepared As They Turn Their Clocks Back

WASHINGTON,D.C. -- With Daylight Saving Time coming to an end, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging Americans to take advantage of the November 3 time change as a reminder to make sure their families are prepared for a possible emergency. A few simple steps like checking smoke alarms, developing a family communications plan, and putting an emergency kit together can go a long way toward keeping families safe.



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