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Posted on February 28, 2018

Will Vapes, Cigarettes, Etc. Trigger a Fire Alarm or Sprinklers?

If you smoke, you may be wondering whether it’s safe to light up near a smoke detector or under a sprinkler head. Users of e-cigarettes and vaporizers may have the same question. Find the answers to your concerns here.

Can Cigarette Smoke Trigger a Fire Alarm?

The short answer is yes, it can. Modern smoke detectors are more sensitive than older models because smoking indoors is prohibited in most public buildings today. Since cigarette smoke no longer swirls in the hallways, today’s detectors are designed with greater sensitivity so they can sense a developing fire as fast as possible.

However, while it’s possible to set off a fire alarm by smoking, reports of such incidents are rare. After all, the smoke from a single cigarette is minimal and dissipates into the air quickly.

That being said, it’s highly recommended that you only smoke outdoors. According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoking materials—including cigarettes, cigars, and pipes—ignited an estimated 17,200 homes in 2014. These fires resulted in 570 deaths, 1,140 injuries, and $426 million in property damage. When you smoke outdoors, there isn’t a chance of accidentally igniting your bedding or carpet, and you can safely wet the butts and dispose of them in an outside garbage can.

What About E-Cigarettes and Vaporizers?

Unlike conventional cigarettes, these battery-powered versions create vapor as a byproduct, not smoke. Despite this, they can still set off a fire alarm if you blow vapor directly into it.

All smoke alarms are sensitive to small, airborne particles. Ionization smoke alarms trigger when particles disrupt the electricity traveling between two charged plates. Optical smoke alarms go off when particles scatter a beam of infrared light onto a light detector.

In this way, vapor and smoke have a similar effect on fire alarms. It’s the reason why smoke detectors shouldn’t be installed in bathrooms where steam from a hot shower could cause a false alarm. However, just like smoking, vaping is unlikely to trigger a fire alarm if only one or two vaporizers are in use and you don’t aim directly at a smoke detector.

Are Sprinkler Heads Triggered by Smoke, Vapor, or Heat?

Rest assured that while there’s a small possibility of triggering a fire alarm by smoking or vaping, there’s no chance of setting off the fire sprinklers. Contrary to popular belief, sprinkler heads are triggered by heat, not smoke or vapor.

Each sprinkler head contains a small bulb of colored liquid, which boils at a specific temperature—usually 155 to 165 degrees, depending on the type of sprinkler head it is. When the liquid boils, the glass breaks and the sprinkler releases water to douse the apparent fire below.

This means fire sprinklers are heat detectors rather than smoke detectors. As a result, no amount of smoking or vaping will ever set them off.

Arrange Fire Protection Services in Houston

When you need fire alarm installation or fire sprinkler repair, count on Kauffman Co. for the job. We provide comprehensive fire protection services for residential and commercial customers in Houston.

Let us answer all of your fire alarm and sprinkler-related questions and provide fixes for recurring problems! Simply contact us at 713-893-1090 to ask your questions or request services.

We provide estimates for new and replacement fire protection systems throughout Texas (TX) in:

  • Alvin
  • Angleton
  • Austin
  • Baytown
  • Beaumont
  • Bellaire
  • Clute
  • Conroe
  • Deer Park
  • Dickinson
  • Freeport
  • Friendswood
  • Galena Park
  • Galveston
  • Houston
  • Humble
  • Huntsville
  • Jacinto City
  • Katy
  • La Marque
  • La Porte
  • Lake Charles, LA
  • Lake Jackson
  • League City
  • Missouri City
  • Orange
  • Pasadena
  • Pearland
  • Port Arthur
  • Richmond
  • Rosenberg
  • San Antonio
  • Schulenburg
  • South Houston
  • Stafford
  • Sugar Land
  • Texas City
  • The Woodlands
  • Victoria
  • Waco
For more information, contact us online or call us now at (713) 893-1090.
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