Two case studies with two different Housing Authorities demonstrate the remarkable value of our product solutions. What is the budget impact of our prevention technology?
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were almost 2.5 million false alarms in 2014. By 2018, that number climbed to 2.9 million. One of the biggest contributors? Microwave ovens. Especially in facilities like senior’s homes, commercial office buildings and college & university residences. Not surprisingly, many of these facilities are looking for ways to prevent these costly and potentially dangerous nuisance alarms from occurring. Products like Safe-T Sensor™ and SmartMicro™ have been designed for use on microwave ovens and can significantly reduce false, or nuisance alarms. That saves property managers money from their operating budgets, reduces disruption to residents, and keep firefighters free to respond to real emergencies.
Take Oklahoma State University as one example.
In 2016, the local fire department notified the University that it was concerned about the number of nuisance fire alarms on campus. Cooking was determined to be the most frequent cause, and while Oklahoma State was not being charged for the alarms, the fire department made it clear that would change if the numbers didn’t go down.
Nuisance alarms can be very expensive. When all costs are factored in – including the deployment of firefighters and equipment as well as the University’s own response by campus police, maintenance personnel, etc. – the University could have been on the hook for as much as $2,000 for each call. In looking for a solution, Oklahoma State discovered Pioneering Technology’s Safe-T Sensor, a device designed to interrupt power to the microwave at the first sign of smoke. The product is very easy to install: The sensor’s control box plugs into the wall, the microwave plugs into the control box, and the device’s ‘sensor’ is attached to the microwave near the exhaust vent. When smoke escapes from the microwave’s exhaust vent it passes over the sensor, which then activates and interrupts power to the microwave. No breakers, fuses or time delays are activated. The microwave is immediately ready for use again and another nuisance alarm is avoided. Oklahoma State purchased 30 of the devices in 2016 as a trial and installed them on the common-area microwaves in three residence halls that had the most nuisance calls.
Shannon Baughman, Associate Director of Operations in the Department of Housing and Residential Life, reports that positive results were immediate. Before the units were installed, there were 31 fire alarms for cooking in the three buildings. After their installation, there were only 16 – and these were likely from microwaves owned by students and not equipped with the Safe-T Sensor. If we assume fire nuisance calls cost $2,000 each, that’s a potential cost savings of $30,000 for 2016 alone. Over the next four years, the savings would have amounted to $120,000. Due to the favourable response from the test, the University made the decision to purchase Safe- T Sensors for all common-area microwaves throughout its 31 residence halls. Baughman says her department worked hand-in-hand with the local Stillwater Fire Department, OSU Facilities Management, and OSU Health and Safety (including the University’s Fire Marshall) on the sensor project. “They have responded VERY favourably to these devices, and fully supported our purchase and implementation,” she says. “They were also very pleased at the results that we received from our trial.”
The University has taken other actions to reduce nuisance calls, including resetting some of its fire panels and systems and changing the priority of some calls. In addition, the University has developed a series of fires safety posters and videos for student education. As a result of these measures, the number of cooking fire alarms from all sources has decreased each year, from a high of 92 in 2016 to 22 in 2019. Baughman says the Safe-T Sensor technology has not only been an instrumental in reducing the number of nuisance fire alarms on campus but has provided secondary benefits as well.
“Our residents were also becoming de-sensitized to the fire alarms because they were happening so frequently,” she says. “Fewer alarms translates to fewer interruptions to our residents’ daily lives and creates a safer on-campus living environment.”
“Reducing the number of nuisance alarms also allows the Stillwater Fire Department to respond to more urgent issues and reduce their overall expenses.”
To learn more about proven solutions that help prevent cooking fires, including SmartMicro™, the latest product innovation for microwave ovens, please visit pioneeringtech.com.
“OSU Housing and Residential Life’s primary goal is the safety of our residents, and we take that responsibility very seriously. The implementation of the Safe-T Sensors has allowed us to meet that goal, and we have been very pleased with their performance and our return on investment.” Shannon Baughman, Associate Director of Operations in the Department of Housing and Residential Life
Act now and help prevent nuisance alarms!
Too many cooks spoil the broth but no cooks in the kitchen may burn down the house.
You can’t control people’s behaviour. But you can help prevent kitchen fires from happening in the first place.
One of the most frustrating aspects of being a residential owners or property managers is being powerless to affect tenant behaviour (and mitigate risk) beyond their apartment doors. Especially when it comes to cooking fires. As the leading cause of home fires and home injuries, cooking fires are shown on the graph below with alarming frequency and tragic results.
If you own or manage residential properties, you can take action to help prevent cooking fires.
Informing tenants about kitchen safety is an important first step towards creating mindful and safe cooking habits. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has posters available in several languages on its website; safety tips for avoiding cooking fires and, in the worst case scenario, how to properly suppress them, including:
• Dress for the job by changing out of any clothing with loose sleeves, dangling ties or long scarves.
• Clean stovetop surface and oven; clear crumbs from toaster.
• Clear the surrounding area of flammable items like loose curtains, hanging towels, bags, or boxes.
• Create and enforce a 3-foot safe cooking zone with no children or pets allowed.
• Avoid multi-tasking, especially when cooking with oil.
• Keep a large lid or cookie sheet nearby to suppress flames, if necessary.
• Never leave cooking food unattended. Turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen, even if just for a minute.
• Point pot handles to the back of the stove; most scalds and burns occur as a result of accidental contact with handles.
• Set a timer just in case. We can become preoccupied mere feet from the stove.
When fire happens:
• NEVER put water on a cooking oil fire!
• If a fire seems beyond suppression, leave. Get everyone safely out of the residence as quickly as possible and close the door. Call 911 and wait for help. (In less than two minutes, smoke and heat from a small kitchen fire becomes deadly.)
• Turn the burner off. If safe to do so, put a lid over the pan. Do not to touch the lid until fully cooled. If possible, carefully remove the pan from the burner.
Reduce the high end temperature of a stovetop and you reduce the chance of fire.
Cooking oils can actually catch fire from the temperatures reached by conventional stovetop coil elements.
Pioneering Technology is producing indisputable results with its SmartBurner, using temperature-limiting controls (TLC). The simple plug in-device controls cooking temperatures to allow safe cooking and help prevent fire-igniting temperatures.
This cooking fire prevention has an impressive 100% efficacy track record. With more than one million SmartBurner installations to date, not a single cooking fire has been reported.
Take action to keep your tenants and properties protected from cooking fires and the horrific loss of life and property that can come as a result.
• For a breakdown of the costs involved with fire damage restoration, see the ROI calculator.
• Learn more about how Pioneering Technology products can increase your tenants safety. Talk to Tim at (647) 945-7520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why COVID19 is Turning Up the Heat for Cooking Fires
Some communities are reporting 20-50% more kitchen fires than usual (and “usual” was already far too many). Now more than ever, building owners and propertymanagers want to ensure their buildings, staff and tenants are protected from the ravages of cooking fires.
A Spike in Cooking Fires
Why the drastic increase?
Even in the better times (pre-Covid, 2013-2017), the statistics were already alarming: Cooking fires were and remain the number one cause of residential fires and fire injuries. They are the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
Q: #1 reason for a kitchen fire?
A: Unattended cooking, according to the NFPA.
Here are a few of the reasons we’re seeing more cooking fires now.
People are eating more meals at home.
More cooking equals more fires. But this math can be corrected; with the right technology and the right solution, preventing kitchen fires is a realistic goal.
Stress and isolation are adding to distraction.
With routines disrupted, the usual kitchen safety rules can easily be forgotten: Not dressing up for school or work means casual (and dangerous) clothes draping over hot stovetops; Parents juggling work and family means that when the phone pings or the baby cries in the other room, the pot on the hot stove may be left alone. And that can very quickly result in thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in property damage.
Alcohol and drug use is on the rise.
Sales of alcohol have skyrocketed. Too often cooking fires happen because they are left alone to happen – while people are distracted, impaired or sleeping.
Help Stop Cooking Fires Before they Happen
Proven solutions are out there.
In the name of preventing cooking fires, Pioneering Technology stands out as a leader of innovative products and technology. The solutions come in the form of temperature limiting control technology to products that actually shut off the appliance as soon as they detect a cooking fire risk.
SmartBurner™ uses Temperature Limiting Control (TLC) technology to help stop the high-end heat that causes cooking fires in the first place. It allows you to cook food not homes. This technology has been installed more than a million times without a single cooking fire.
This simple plug-in replacement for electric coils, controls the high-end heat of stove top cooking. (Traditional electric coils can produce almost eight times the heat needed to boil water and more than twice the temperature needed to ignite most cooking oils.)
While there are many successful case studies, here’s one that the NFPA called out in its July 2020 report on Home Cooking Fires:
“The Worcester Fire Department in Massachusetts retrofitted electric coil ranges with temperature limiting controls in four apartment buildings for low-income older adults that together had experienced an average of 12 reported cooking fires per month in 2015. Roughly 800 ranges were retrofitted. No stovetop fires were reported in any of those units during the 10 months after installation.”
Pioneering Technology also offers prevention solutions for smooth top electric ranges, induction stoves and microwave ovens.
The first domestic Radar Range microwave was introduced in 1967. Since that summer of love, microwave ovens have become a mainstay in kitchens around the world. And even though they’re over 50-years-old, most of us still don’t know how microwave ovens affect cooking safety. Microwave safety is especially important in college dorms and long-term care homes where residents might frequently heat up single-serving meals. Not surprisingly, there is a growing market for microwaveable meals. The industry is expected to expand from over $102 billion in 2020 to more than $135 billion by 2027.
Let’s put your main concern to rest: microwave ovens are among the safest types of cooking equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there was an average of 7,300 fires caused by microwaves, with just 120 civilian injuries based on its latest 2014 to 2018 data.
That’s not to say these technological miracles are entirely foolproof. As anyone who has ever burned popcorn or a potato in a microwave knows, leaving food to cook unattended for too long can lead to a charred mess.
In fact, the resulting smoke from overcooking in microwaves frequently cause “nuisance alarms” for firefighters. (In the U.S., fire departments respond to more than 2 million false alarms each year.) False alarms are such an expensive problem that many municipalities now charge building owners for the cost of a fire call.
While fires are an important concern for building managers, injuries caused by residents handling items heated in a microwave should also be considered in these litigious times. One study that looked at U.S. microwave oven-related injuries found that more than 98 per cent took place in the home. And the most common form of injury were spilled liquids that affected the victims’ hands and fingers. So the next time you decide to warm up your coffee, don’t forget to let it cool for a few minutes before opening the microwave door.
Another hazard faced by inattentive or distracted microwave users is exploding food. The World Health Organization reported that certain foods with non-porous surfaces like hotdogs, or foods made up of different materials that heat unevenly like eggs in their shells, may explode if overheated.
Luckily, companies like Pioneering Technology are on the case to make kitchens and cooking safer. Their newest product solution, SmartMicro increases cooking safety by interrupting power to microwave ovens at the first sign of smoke, preventing microwave fires and potentially expensive nuisance alarms.
Posting helpful reminders in common rooms with microwaves could help building owners reduce injuries from overheated food. An even more effective solution to save property and money would be relying on product innovations that help prevent fires and nuisance alarms in the first place.
It may be especially important for you to consider it now. Fire safety data from authorities like the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has long indicated that cooking fires can be a higher risk on days and in months when people are more likely to be indoors cooking.