A death caused by fire is treacherous. This is because people who die in a fire are usually victims of the smoke rather than the flames. Smoke often surprises people in their sleep when they cannot perceive a possible build-up of odour. Depending on the materials burning, this smoke can be extremely toxic. In extreme cases, it can be fatal after a single breath. In addition, smoke contains so-called corrosive particles which erode the lungs and airways. Victims who don’t die can be left with lifelong brain damage. In addition to the extreme danger to life, damage to property can also be enormous. Not only fire can destroy the building structure and furniture – smoke can as well. Nothing more than a smouldering heating fan can ruin all the furnishings. This damage is not reimbursed by any insurance company, because insurance only pays out in the case of open fire. There is approximately €4 billion in fire damage each year in the Federal Republic of Germany (source: Bavarian Fire Brigade Association).
Where smoke alarm devices should be positioned to guarantee minimum protection varies depending on the design of the house or apartment. In single-story apartments, the hallway that is used frequently in case of fire should be part of the minimum configuration. In multi-storey buildings, the hallways of each storey must be included. However, it is advisable to equip all rooms for optimum protection.