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I installed hard-wired and interconnected smoke alarms through the house. I wondered, though, if a fire spread through my attic I might not know about it until the ceiling or roof collapsed.

Should I install an interconnected alarm in the attic?

Is there some reason this isn't required/recommended?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

FEMA writes:

Few, if any, smoke alarms are Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-listed for use in the temperature extremes an attic can experience. Few, if any, codes require alarms in one- and two- family residential attics where nearly all (90 percent) of attic fires occur.

“Attic Fires in Residential Buildings”, Topical Fire Report Series 11(6), January 2011

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only 90% of attic fires occur in the attic? –  Steven Dec 10 '12 at 20:24
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@Steven, 90% of attic fires occur in one- and two-family residential attic. The remaining 10% occur in the attics of other kinds of buildings. –  Vebjorn Ljosa Dec 10 '12 at 20:27
    
Given this data, it surprises me that attic alarms are not required. –  Matthew Dec 10 '12 at 21:33
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@MatthewPK, “Residential building attic fires […] comprise [only] approximately 2 percent of all residential building fires.” (same source) –  Vebjorn Ljosa Dec 11 '12 at 10:31

If you sleep better at night with an attic smoke detector, they do make detectors for extreme temperatures. They go from -15 to + 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

The only problem with these is the dust in most unfinished attics. If you have a workman in they will stir up the insulation and create dust. Smokes are very sensitive to dust. But if there is some bad wiring smoldering in the insulation it can save your life. You will just need to vacuum it out say twice a year, and keep it close to the opening.

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Now Smoke & Heat Detector is used for fire alarm.

NFPA 72, 2010 Edition, Chapter 29, Section 29.5.1 Required Detection, states the following:

29.5.1.1 Where required by other governing laws, codes, or standards for a specific type of occupancy, approved single and multiple-station smoke alarms shall be installed as follows:
(1) In all sleeping rooms and guest rooms
(2) Outside of each separate dwelling unit sleeping area, within 6.4 m (21 ft) of any door to a sleeping room, the distance measured along a path of travel
(3) On every level of a dwelling unit, including basements
(4) On every level of a residential board and care occupancy (small facility), including basements and excluding crawl spaces and unfinished attics
(5) In the living area(s) of a guest suite
(6) In the living area(s) of a residential board and care occupancy (small facility)

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I'm guessing this was downvoted because, while pertaining to smoke detectors in general, it doesn't answer the question explictly. I think if you did a prologue highlighting that section 4 Excludes unfinished attics, it would improve your answer. Also, a citation of WHERE in CODE this is found (a brand reference does not give a universal requirement) –  HerrBag Feb 28 '13 at 14:14

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