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Smoke Alarms and How they Differ!

smoke alarm on wall with led warning button
Smoke Alarm and carbon monoxide combined

Fire prevention is the foremost safeguard against boat fires, but a smoke alarm can serve as an essential secondary defense, especially during overnight stays. When a boat fire occurs, the smoke can quickly impede your ability to breathe, akin to the sensation of drowning. Inhaling just a couple of breaths of toxic smoke could render you unconscious. A properly functioning smoke alarm, tailored to the situation, can swiftly alert you to the peril, providing valuable extra moments to evacuate.

These recommendations provide insights into selecting the most suitable smoke alarms for your vessel, the optimal locations for their installation, and the essential maintenance practices to ensure the highest level of protection. Even if you're primarily a daytime boater a fire alarm is definitely a wise investment.

Fire detection

Fires can occur at the most unexpected moments, posing the greatest threat while you're in a deep slumber. Boats are frequently stocked with flammable materials and highly combustible fuels, making fires spread rapidly, resulting in property damage, injuries, and even fatalities.

However, the true danger lies in the swift lethality of smoke and toxic fumes. If you're asleep during a fire, your survival hinges on a prompt awakening before smoke and noxious fumes encroach upon you.

Ionisation smoke alarms

Ioniation smoke alarms are highly effective in identifying rapidly spreading fires. These detectors are not only cost-effective but also inexpensive to acquire. They exhibit exceptional sensitivity to minuscule smoke particles generated by swiftly burning fires, like those fueled by paper and wood, and are capable of detecting such fires even before the smoke becomes dense, allowing time for action and or escape.

Photoelectric (Optical) Alarms

Photoelectric smoke detectors excel at sensing larger smoke particles emitted by slow-burning, "smouldering" fires. They are renowned for their high reliability and minimal false alarms. While they may come at a higher cost, they surpass ionisation smoke detectors in effectively identifying the larger smoke particles associated with slow-burning fires.

Heat sensor alarms

A heat detector is a fire alarm mechanism engineered to activate when the convected thermal energy from a fire elevates the temperature of a heat-sensitive component. The component's thermal mass and conductivity control the pace at which heat is transferred to it. As the alarm detects a rapid rise in temperature, normally around 65 degrees the alarm is triggered.

Carbon monoxide alarm

Carbon monoxide from a poorly maintained fire or gas appliance is a tasteless, colourless, and odourless gas that poses a severe health risk. Exposure to it can lead to significant harm. A carbon monoxide detector serves as an essential safeguard by sounding an alarm upon detecting this gas in your environment. It provides an early warning, protecting your health by alerting you to its presence in your home before it can cause harm.

Where to fit your new alarm

For optimal placement, position the smoke alarm along the boat's centre line within the same cabin where a heater or cooker is used, while maintaining a safe distance from any appliances. Mount it on a well-insulated section of the ceiling to avoid cold spots. Aim to keep it at least 300mm away from any vertical surfaces.

In cases of limited headroom and no alternative location, consider wall mounting it 150mm to 300mm below the ceiling, but steer clear of placement directly above a ventilator or opening window. Ensure the smoke alarm is easily accessible for routine testing and quick hush-button activation.

Place smoke alarms where they can be heard, especially during sleep or when doors are closed. It's advisable to test the alarm in its intended position before securing it in place,

Always refer to manufacturer instructions


Test the battery once a month, this is just a case of pushing the test button! We also suggest hoovering around the alarm once a year to remove any dust build up inside the alarm.

In this video a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are tested with an unexpected result!

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