What is that strange retro-looking smoke alarm?

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

It may look like a smoke alarm, but it's actually an old-fashioned wind-up mechanical heat detector fire alarm. A hot room temperature, instead of smoke, is what it takes to set one off. Because the device is mechanical, it must be wound up with key to function, and the sound is similar to a fire alarm bell.

    Heat fire alarms were popular from the 1960s through 1990s, and had impressive names like “Vanguard Thermostatic Heat Detector Alarm” and “Vulcan AutoSonic Heat Fire Alarm." Some brands were sold primarily through in-home demonstration parties, similar to Tupperware. Reliability was never that good when tested, and one company’s alarm was recalled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) in 1999. They are not an acceptable alternative to a UL-listed residential smoke alarm by the building code, and now just a footnote in fire safety history. 

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Here’s links to some of our other blog posts about “SMOKE AND CO ALARMS":

What is the best place to install carbon monoxide alarms (CO detectors) in a house? 

Can the smoke sensors in a home security/fire alarm system replace the smoke alarms required by the building code?

Does pushing the test button on a smoke alarm test the smoke sensor device inside? 

Should a smoke alarm be installed in the kitchen? 

Where are smoke alarms required to be located? 

Are carbon monoxide alarms required to be installed in homes in Florida?

When should I replace my smoke alarms? 

Does the Nest Protect system meet current building code standards for a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm system? 

What does the new Florida smoke alarm law require? 

 Is there a Florida law that all older homes must have smoke alarms, regardless of when they were built? 

• Why are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms required by law for homes in Florida? 

• When were smoke alarms first required to be interconnected?

How can I tell the difference between a smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector? 

When were smoke detectors/alarms first required in Florida?

What is the minimum height for placement of a CO alarm (carbon monoxide detector)? 

Where does the code require CO alarms (carbon monoxide detectors)?  

• Is it illegal to disconnect a smoke alarm? 

• Where should smoke alarms NOT be installed?

• Does a home inspector test smoke alarms?

 Does a home inspector test CO carbon monoxide alarms?

• Why does my CO alarm (carbon monoxide) keep chirping after replacing the battery?  

 What is the average life expectancy of a CO carbon monoxide detector?

• What is the average life expectancy of a combination smoke and CO carbon monoxide detector? 

Where should a smoke detector be placed on a tray (coffered) ceiling? 

• How close can a smoke detector be to a ceiling fan? 

• How close can a smoke detector be to an air conditioning/heating supply register (vent)? 

• How close can a smoke detector be to a bathroom door? 

Are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms required in mobile/manufactured homes?

     Visit our SAFETY page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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