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Smoke Detector Response to Nuisance Aerosols



Thomas G. Cleary, William L. Grosshandler, Artur A. Chernovsky


The worth of a fire detector is determined as much by its ability not to respond to stimuli that are generated from non-threatening sources as to respond in a timely manner to an actual fire. Photo-electric and ionization smoke detectors react to a greater or lesser degree to all particles that enter the sensing chamber, and, by themselves, the detectors can not distinguish smoke from a nuisance aerosol. The fire-emulator/detector-evaluator (FE/DE) is used to produce smoke and nuisance aerosols representative of what could be present immediately adjacent to an installed detector, and provides a test bed to determine the response of spot-type detectors to physical products (temperature, gases, and smoke) formed in simulated fires, as well as the response to stimuli not associated with a fire threat. The analog output of a multi-sensor detector is measured as a function of aerosol type (peanut oil and clay dust), concentration, and air flow, and is compared to the response of the detector to a flaming fire, and to the extinction of laser light in the FE/DE test section at optical densities up to 0.12 m-1.
Proceedings Title
14th International Conference on Automatic Fire Detection "AUBE '99", 11th Proceedings
Conference Dates
March 16-18, 1999
Conference Location


fire detection, fire detection systems, smoke detectors, test methods, aerosols, data analysis


Cleary, T. , Grosshandler, W. and Chernovsky, A. (1999), Smoke Detector Response to Nuisance Aerosols, 14th International Conference on Automatic Fire Detection "AUBE '99", 11th Proceedings, Duisburg, , [online], (Accessed July 19, 2024)


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Created March 16, 1999, Updated February 19, 2017