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  • Press Release

UL Releases New Requirements to Smoke Alarm Standards, Opens New Test Lab

February 8, 2018

  • More than 250 technical changes to the smoke alarm standards
  • Revisions reflect updates to keep pace with technological advancements of smoke alarms and smoke detectors as well as to respond to new fire conditions
  • 800-square-foot Smoke Detection Test Laboratory is now open for testing
  • Facility features an air-tight, climate-controlled smoke room with automated testing technology

NORTHBROOK, Ill. – February 8, 2018 – UL, a global leader in safety science, today announced new requirements for UL 217 - Standard for Smoke Alarms, 8th edition and UL 268 - Standard for Smoke Detector Systems, 7th edition that include criteria to reduce nuisance alarms and address smoke characteristics between a fast moving and smoldering polyurethane foam fires. To help manufacturers test the quality and effectiveness of their smoke alarm and smoke detector products against the new requirements outlined in the  UL Standards 217 and 268, UL has opened a new state-of-the-art Smoke Detection Test Laboratory at its Northbrook, Ill. campus just north of Chicago.

Evolution of a Standard – Research Leads the Way

UL conducted research for the National Fire Protection Research Foundation that showed smoke characteristics are different between fast moving and smoldering polyurethane fires. Additional research found that fire dynamics in a home have changed over the last several decades. Newer synthetic materials in the home, more open layouts and lighter construction materials all burn hotter and faster, leading to escape times being reduced from an average of 17 minutes to three-to-four minutes.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nuisance alarms are the leading reason for disconnected smoke alarms. In order to enable manufacturers to produce more responsive alarms that don’t introduce nuisance alarming during cooking, UL conducted a research project to develop data on smoke characteristics during normal cooking events. The research led to new test requirements for cooking alarm tests.

“UL 217 Standard for Smoke Alarms, 8th edition and UL 268 Standard for Smoke Detector Systems, 7th edition raises the bar and research from UL and the fire science community has led the way,” said Barb Guthrie, UL Vice President. “The next generation of smoke alarms and smoke detector systems that comply with the new Standards will be equipped with advanced sensing technology that can reduce smoke alarm activation during a cooking event while allowing smoke alarms to have increased sensitivity and overall performance. And, remember, if your alarm does go off, that means to get down, get out and stay out.”

New Testing Facility

The new 800-square-foot facility tests products to the new requirements to the UL 217 and UL 268 Standards. Smoke alarm manufacturers test their products using the advanced science of a room-in-a-room designed lab. The design assures an air-tight, climate-controlled smoke room with automated testing technology for conducting the Standards’ required fire tests. The tests are conducted in an environmentally controlled setting that manages humidity, air pressure and thermal equilibrium—essential elements to assure testing consistency. The new requirements for the Standards have more than 250 technical updates, which will be consolidated into about 50 lab tests to help smoke alarm manufacturers with the quality and effectiveness of their products.

“Smoke alarm manufacturers are working toward meeting a 2020 deadline for having their products tested against the revised Standards, and they are very excited to test their products in our new facility. In fact, we are running extra shifts to accommodate the demand so our customers can meet the deadline,” said David Mills, UL Project Design Engineer.

UL has been certifying smoke alarms for more than 40 years and authored the first Standard for Smoke Alarms on January 2, 1976.

About UL

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