Why smoke alarms are not mandatory in attics is beyond me. Ask any firefighter if they have one in their attic and the answer is yes We found out the necessity for attic smoke alarms the hard way, when our brand new, completely built to code, fully inspected home had an electrical fire in the attic, RIGHT ABOVE AN INTERIOR SMOKE ALARM.
I awoke to use the bathroom, upon returning to the bedroom I heard a strange noise, sounded like rain on the bathroom vent, or on a tin roof, but far, far away. Hmm, odd, I thought, didn't hear that in the bathroom, must have just started raining, and went back to the bathroom to check.
That moment of "hmmmm, this is strange" saved our lives...when I returned to the bathroom there was no noise. In my half awake state my brain decided there must have been a storm the night before...branch must have put a hole in the roof... the noise must be rain on the ceiling...noise is right where the fuse panel is... This odd, disjointed ramble of thoughts had me immediately pull the kill switch on the entire fuse panel. I was still NOT thinking fire, never occurred to me the sounds I was hearing were fire.
Knowing water and electricity do not mix I mentally debated whether I should call the fire department - I didn't want to be one of "those" people who waste emergency services due to panic. I wasted critical, valuable minutes before calling the fire department, ...I almost opened the attic hatch to look (this could have literally been fatal), all because I could not grasp WHY the smoke alarms had not gone off, IF there was, actually, a fire. Finally, thankfully, I called the fire department, evacuated all humans, 11 dogs and sundry other pets, and only once I exited the house did I become aware of the massive amounts of smoke coming out the eaves and roof vents.
We had smoke alarms directly below the fire, in our master bedroom; in the hallway outside of our master bedroom; and across the hall in the spare bedroom. These were all useless in our case, as smoke RISES and the fire was in the attic. Had I not woken, had I not heard the odd noise, had I not investigated the odd noise...well, to be frank, we would have slept until the burning roof collapsed on top of us.