When your smoke alarm goes off you don’t have time to look around

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Research shows that 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to escape a house fire:

Today it’s down to three or four minutes. The reason: Newer homes and the furniture inside them actually burn faster. A lot faster.


“The backing of your carpet is synthetic, your drapes are synthetic, the couch, the pillows are synthetic,” explained John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for UL. “They burn hotter and faster than natural materials do.”

A similar fire set to the sofa pillow in the room simulating an older home burned for several minutes without even catching the rest of the sofa. At 15 minutes the room was still intact; it wound up taking 30 minutes for the room to burn.


“When your smoke alarm goes off you don’t have time to look around, get your wedding pictures,” Drengenberg said. “You get out as quickly as you can.”


  1. Mike-SMO says:

    Good point.

    Our Fire Department responds with backpack “super soakers” and a hose fed from a belly tank in the pumper. They are fast responders. If they can knock a fire down, fine. If not, then evacuate. The structure and contents are “disposable”. Modern construction and furnishings are not fire resistant. Fire and storm resistant storage for valuables, mementos, data back ups, etc. is all on you.

  2. Bruce says:

    Mike, why not CO2? Seems lighter and more effective.

  3. Wang Wei Lin says:


    I think CO2 is a great fire suppressant. In the 80s it was common to use in computer rooms, paint booths, etc. Now it’s better your house burn than touch the devil’s greenhouse gas.

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