I've got a rather extensive OpenHab smart home installation with tons of lights, thermostats, and more diverse connected devices. One category of connected devices is smoke detectors, one in every zone of the house.

Right now, when a smoke detector detects smoke, they all start shrieking like normal. Additionally, I've automated it so that:

  • All the lights in the house turn on at full brightness (to provide a visual queue if someone somehow can't hear the alarms and prevent fumbling with light switches in the dark)
  • The system sends push notifications to phones, alerting them that there might be a fire. If nobody's home, then security cameras can be viewed remotely and fire dept. called if there's actually a fire.

Now here is my question: Several rooms have motor-driven windows/skylights. From a fire-safety perspective, would it make sense to automate these to open or close when smoke is detected?

I can see both advantages and disadvantages, but I'm not sure what's safer:

  • Automation should close the windows because they provide fresh oxygen for a fire and can make it grow rapidly.

  • Automation should open the windows because this allows smoke and gasses to escape up and outwards. This lets people inside the building breath easier while they escape

Some additional information about my house:

  • Old, European construction with modern European doors, windows, and heating
  • All walls are solid stone (cinder blocks mostly) or brick. Structural members are thick lumber or I-beams
  • Automation likely to function for a long time provided fire does not break out in server room. Most devices are battery operated and all networking is powered by UPS in isolated room.
  • My opinion would be to close windows for the reasons you described, but open the blinds to allow light in and make it easier for the FD to see inside when they arrive. However, I think JRaef has the right idea - contact your local Fire Marshall or fire department and ask them.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 31, 2020 at 18:49
  • Also, you may not be able to legally do this with normal interconnected smoke alarms and smart-home bits and bobs; what you're describing sounds like a (admittedly slightly odd) form of releasing service, which requires a full-blown fire alarm control panel with system smoke detectors and matching notification bases, at least in the US. Apr 1, 2020 at 0:21

1 Answer 1


Whether or not you open or close the windows is going to depend on the specifics of a situation. It's not something I would automate, it's too variable. But if you want too be sure, make an appointment to speak with your local Fire Marshall, that's kind of their job to know these sort of things.

  • More of a comment than an answer, but I agree 100% with the "contact local Fire Marshall".
    – FreeMan
    Mar 31, 2020 at 18:47

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