Presence Smoke and Fire

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Fire in the air is one of the most hazardous situations that a flight crew can be faced with. Without aggressive intervention by the flight crew, a fire on board an aircraft can lead to the catastrophic loss of that aircraft within a very short space of time. Once a fire has become established, it is unlikely that the crew will be able to extinguish it. To stand any chance of survival in the face of an uncontrolled fire, the aircraft must land as soon as possible.

System redundancy is achieved in many installations by doubling the number of detectors and separating the detection lines.

For more information see the main article Fire in the Air. The following effects of fire or smoke could be expected, potentially developing from a relatively benign situation to the worst case scenario within minutes:. At the first indication, or suspicion, of smoke and fumes, or a fire within the aircraft the flight crew will don smoke goggles and oxygen masks.

The wearing of oxygen masks may make the voice messages more difficult to understand. The fire may well affect aircraft systems and the crew will try to isolate the cause of the fire.

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As a consequence, data link equipment, transponders , and even radios, may cease to function correctly or be switched off. After the initial emergency call , and having declared their intentions, the crew will turn their attention to isolating and fighting the fire, and may therefore not respond to calls. The controller will need to be patient and try to anticipate the actions of the flight crew.

If possible, the controller should reduce the amount of RTF traffic on the frequency, clear other traffic to another frequency, or direct aircraft concerned onto a discreet frequency. If possible, it would be advisable to minimise the number of frequency changes given to the aircraft as this increases the chance of loss of communication. Many smoke and fire warnings turn out to be spurious.

Detecting the smoke from a fire and sounding the alarm enables the occupants to get out and alert the fire service quickly. In fact, installing a smoke sensor is vitally important and can save lives. How does a smoke alarm work? In a smoke alarm , the smoke sensor is designed to detect suspicious smoke. Although ionisation chamber smoke alarms are available, they're not permitted for use in private residences because they contain a radioactive component. The only smoke alarms currently authorised for domestic use are optical alarms also called photoelectric smoke alarms.

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How does optical detection work? An optical smoke alarm contains a photoelectric sensor, which measures variations in a light signal emitted by an electroluminescent diode.

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Under normal conditions and if no smoke is present, the signal is continuous and normal. However, if the light signal is disrupted by the presence of smoke, the optical sensor perceives a disruption and an audible alarm is triggered. Although the optical detection process may vary depending on the product used, it always involves capturing variations in a light signal emitted by a diode. A linear optical smoke alarm detects any change in light intensity between the diode and the photoelectric sensor. Other smoke alarms reverse the process: the light signal is pointed next to a photoelectric cell and if this signal is dispersed by the smoke, the optical sensor perceives the light and the alarm is triggered.

Powering a smoke alarm A smoke alarm can be powered by connecting it to the power circuit in the home. However, most smoke detection devices are powered wirelessly using batteries.


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Some smoke alarms require alkaline batteries, while other products are fitted with a lithium battery. An alkaline battery needs to be changed every year on average and an audible alert indicates that the battery is running low. Lithium batteries have the advantage of lasting 10 years and therefore require less attention. However, this type of battery can't be changed, meaning that the smoke alarm can no longer be used when the battery dies.

When it stops working, the smoke alarm will need to be replaced. The choice of battery is important, as it affects the price of the smoke alarm. A product that has a lithium battery is more expensive than a device powered by alkaline batteries, although it is safer there's no danger of it not working when the battery runs out and can be less expensive in the long run taking into account the price of replacement batteries over the lifespan of a product with alkaline batteries.

It's also worth noting that all smoke alarms are designed to operate continuously: they alert you when the battery is running out, while products connected via a cable contain a backup battery in case there is a power cut.

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Discover all our products Why install a smoke alarm in your home? A smoke alarm is an essential product for protecting your home from fire. Smoke alarms are mandatory Since , it has been mandatory for every home in France to be fitted with at least one autonomous device that detects smoke and triggers an alarm. This legislation, approved in March , applies to all residences: houses, apartments, furnished accommodation, seasonal rental properties, etc. A smoke alarm is designed to detect the start of a fire in a home as soon as possible in order to quickly alert the occupants.

This legislation requires smoke alarms to bear the CE marking and comply with the European standard EN 14 All owners of a residence are therefore required to fit a smoke alarm. If an apartment is rented, the tenant and owner must both make sure that the smoke alarm is compliant and working properly when the check-in inventory takes place. It's then up to the tenant to maintain the device, regularly check that it works and change the batteries.

The risk of domestic fires The risk of a domestic fire is higher than you might think. Every year in France, the fire service responds to no fewer than , calls and nearly deaths are caused by fires. When a fire starts, it's often necessary to react very quickly. A fire spreads rapidly and the toxic smoke gradually saturates the air, causing asphyxia. That's why early detection of smoke is essential for giving the home's occupants enough time to get out and alert the emergency services.


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  • A smoke alarm can alert you during the day or night The volume of an alarm is also a crucial factor in how effective it is. Most fatal fires occur at night, when the occupants of a home are asleep. That's why the audible alarm must be at least 85 decibels in order to be heard by someone who's asleep and alert them quickly enough. It's a common misconception that the smoke, smell, heat or noise from a fire is enough to wake up a person.

    A fire produces highly toxic smoke that poses a danger well before the effects of the fire heat, noise wake up someone who's asleep. A smoke alarm significantly increases your chance of being alerted in time and exiting the building. Installing a smoke alarm You don't need any special skills to install a smoke alarm and the process is very quick. Nevertheless, it's important to carefully choose where you position a fire detection device to make sure it's working properly, both in terms of detecting smoke and ensuring the alarm can be heard properly throughout your home.

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    Installing a smoke alarm To install a smoke alarm in the right place in your home, choose a central area such as a corridor that leads to the main rooms. The alarm should be placed sufficiently near the main room so that it can be heard at night in case of a fire. Avoid placing it nearby the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room, as smoke or steam could set off the alarm.

    The position of a smoke alarm is also crucial for making sure your home is safe. Ideally, place it on the ceiling smoke tends to rise due to its heat at least 60 cm from the walls.