Journal of Community Health

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 543–548 | Cite as

Evaluation of Fire-Safety Programs that use 10-Year Smoke Alarms

  • Mark Jackson
  • Jonathan Wilson
  • Judith Akoto
  • Sherry Dixon
  • David E. Jacobs
  • Michael F. Ballesteros
Original Paper


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began funding a Smoke Alarm Installation and Fire Safety Education (SAIFE) program in 1998. This program involves the installation of lithium-powered “10-year” smoke alarms in homes at high risk for fires and injuries. This study aimed to (1) determine among original SAIFE homes if the lithium-powered alarms were still present and functional 8–10 years after installation and (2) understand factors related to smoke alarm presence and functionality. Data on a total of 384 homes and 601 smoke alarms in five states were collected and analyzed. Only one-third of alarms were still functional; 37% of installed alarms were missing; and 30% of alarms were present, but not functioning. Alarms were less likely to be functioning if they were installed in the kitchen and if homes had a different resident at follow-up. Of the 351 alarms that were present and had a battery at the time of the evaluation, only 21% contained lithium-powered batteries. Of these, 78% were still functioning. Programs that install lithium-powered alarms should use units that have sealed-in batteries and “hush” buttons. Additionally, education should be given on smoke alarm maintenance that includes a message that batteries in these alarms should not be replaced. Lithium-powered smoke alarms should last up to 10 years if maintained properly.


Smoke alarms Fires Injury prevention Evaluation 



The authors would like to thank Mary Borges from the Washington Department of Health, Robert McCool from the Kentucky Department of Health, Pam Archer from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Steve Davidson from the Georgia Department of Health, and Lenny Recupero from the Virginia Department of Health, and to all the local fire departments for their assistance provided during this evaluation.


The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


  1. 1.
    Karter, M. J. (2008). Fire loss in the United States during 2007. Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Roberts, I., & Power, C. (1996). Does the decline in child injury mortality vary by social class? A comparison of class specific mortality in 1981 and 1991. BMJ, 313, 784–786.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ahrens, M. (2004). U.S. experience with smoke alarms and other fire alarms. Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Istre, G. R., McCoy, M. A., Osborn, L., Barnard, J. J., & Bolton, A. (2001). Deaths and injuries from house fires. New England Journal of Medicine, 344, 1911–1916.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Shenassa, E. D., Stubbenick, A., & Brown, M. J. (2004). Social disparities in housing and related pediatric injury: A multilevel study. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 633–639.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Warda, L. J., & Ballesteros, M. F. (2007). Interventions to prevent residential fire injury. In L. S. Doll, S. E. Bonzo, J. A. Mercy, & D. A. Sleet (Eds.), Handbook of injury and violence prevention (pp. 97–115). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mallonee, S., Istre, G. R., Rosenberg, M., Reddish-Douglas, M., Jordan, F., Silverstein, P., et al. (1996). Surveillance and prevention of residential-fire injuries. New England Journal of Medicine, 335, 27–31.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    DiGuiseppi, C., Roberts, I., Wade, A., Sculpher, M., Edwards, P., Godward, C., et al. (2002). Incidence of fires and related injuries after giving out free smoke alarms: Cluster randomized controlled trail. BMJ, 325, 995.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Harvey, P. A., Aitken, M., Ryan, G. W., Demeter, L. A., Givens, J., Sundararaman, R., et al. (2004). Strategies to increase smoke alarm use in high-risk households. Journal of Community Health, 29, 375–385.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ballesteros, M. F., Jackson, M. L., & Martin, M. W. (2005). Working toward the elimination of residential fire deaths: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Smoke Alarm Installation and Fire Safety Education (SAIFE) program. Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, 26, 434–439.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mickalide, A., & Validzic, A. (1999). Smoke alarm maintenance of low-income families. American Journal of Public Health, 89, 1584.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Thompson, C. J., Jones, A. R., Davis, M. K., & Caplan, L. S. (2004). Do smoke alarms still function a year after installation? A follow-up of the Get-Alarmed Campaign. Journal of Community Health, 29, 171–181.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Shults, R. A., Sacks, J. J., Briske, L. A., Dickey, P. H., Kinde, M. R., Mallonee, S., et al. (1998). Evaluation of three smoke detector promotion programs. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 15, 165–171.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lee, A. (2002). Preliminary test results on lithium batteries used in residential smoke alarms. Washington, DC: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Thompson, N. J., & McClintock, H. O. (1998). Demonstrating your program’s worth: A primer on evaluation for programs to prevent unintentional injury. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Jackson
    • 1
  • Jonathan Wilson
    • 2
  • Judith Akoto
    • 2
  • Sherry Dixon
    • 2
  • David E. Jacobs
    • 2
  • Michael F. Ballesteros
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and ControlCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.National Center for Healthy HousingColumbiaUSA

Personalised recommendations