Importance of Detector Placement in Fire Hazard Management

Detector placement is important in managing home or residential fire hazards. It affects the success of reducing residential fires and related deaths.

Residential Fire Hazards

In home cooking fire hazard, the placement of smoke detectors is an important factor that can reduce the likelihood of home fires. Home fires frequently start in the kitchen because of improper use of cooking or heating appliances. Residential fires can also start in the bedroom and the family room because of smoking. In addition, faulty electrical wiring can also cause residential fires.

Among these fire hazards, though, the fire hazard presented by cooking stands out as the most significant. It is important to have a smoke detector placed in the kitchen, so that fires that are just starting or about to start in the kitchen can be readily detected by the person who is cooking in the kitchen or people who happen to be near the kitchen.

Principles of Detectors and Detector Placement

The general principle behind the proper detector placement is that the detector should effectively detect fires so that there can be as little risk of residential fire deaths as possible. This principle emphasizes the importance of two aspects of using smoke detectors:

  • The detector should be able to detect smoke from fire as soon as possible
  • The detector should be able to notify people as soon as possible.

These two requirements indicate that the detector should be as near as possible to the source of the smoke, and the alarm should be as near as possible to the people who need to be notified of the fire/smoke.

In cooking or kitchen fires that cause residential fires, the smoke detector should be placed within the kitchen, as near as possible and as appropriate to the most likely source of fires in the kitchen, such as cooking appliances. The detector should not be too near because cooking appliances normally emit smoke in the normal process of cooking. What the detector should be able to do is detect smoke that is already uncharacteristic of normal cooking. In addition, the detector should be properly connected to an alarm system that could immediately notify people in case such an uncharacteristic smoke is ever detected in the kitchen.

Final Note

The placement of detectors is important because it influences the timeliness of fire suppression/extinguishing actions that people take. A smoke detector that is able to detect smoke as soon as possible can help prevent fires from becoming too big to cause death.


  • Higgins, E., Taylor, M., Jones, M., & Lisboa, P. J. G. (2013). Understanding community fire risk: A spatial model for targeting fire prevention activities. Fire Safety Journal62, 20-29.
  • National Fire Protection Association (2014). The US Fire Problem: US Home Structure Fires. [Opens in New Window]

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