Stovetop Risk

In the past I’ve written about technology that would prevent kitchen fires, and I’ve been hoping that manufacturers would jump into this arena. Building fires occur most frequently in the kitchen, and of those fires most begin on the stove/range top. As I like to bring new technology to the attention of the fire service, there’s another product that’s starting to hit the market in Europe that might have promise in our nation.

Stove Alarm

Innohome (www.innohome.com) is a company that focuses on technology that will intervene in the common fire scenario in a fashion that might also prevent fires. There are two different but related technologies available: the stove alarm and the stove guard.

According to the manufacturer, the stove alarm has several distinct component features:

  • An intelligent, self-learning maximum temperature alarm, which identifies dangerously high temperatures.
  • An intelligent, self-learning temperature rate of increase alarm that monitors temperature changes on top of the cooker.
  • Identification of overheating early in the development of hazardous situations.
  • Compatible with all cooker types.
  • Can be installed instantly with magnets without the need for any tools, cables or external power sources.

The stove alarm is tied to an alarm system that still requires manual operation of the stove once the alarm goes off. That has some value, but it is only half of what is needed to prevent a stovetop fire independently.

Stove Guard

The other item that is needed is the stove guard. The stove guard has an intelligent heat sensor that is attached beneath the cooker hood, as well as a control unit that is connected to the stovetop; it monitors the cook top temperature and rate of temperature change. If it detects unusual activity, it triggers the control unit, which in turn cuts off the gas or electricity supply, preventing a fire hazard. Compatible with all cooker types, the Stove Guard’s features offer protection, including those of the stove alarm, but add to them by providing:

  • Alarm Signal Detection that recognizes nearby fire, gas and carbon monoxide alarm signals.
  • An Intelligent Timer that senses if the hob has been left on and cuts off the electricity supply.
  • A Safety Lock that ensures the stove cannot be turned on by a child or a pet by “locking” the cooker.
  • Automatic fault diagnosis that tests the functioning of the system every time the cooker is in use.

The Stove Guard identifies overheating early in the development of a hazardous situation.

Technology Standards

There is more to this technology than I’m qualified to evaluate. I did inquire about listings from nationally recognized testing laboratories, and was forwarded some information about how Innohome is approaching the European marketplace to obtain certifications. There is an Intertek listing which is related to the electrical side of the operations (or so it appears to me).

What is missing is a national standard that would allow manufacturer’s the ability to have their products tested against some consensus criteria that would provide some indication of whether or not it would actually function as designed. The Fire Protection Research Foundation is working on that, but continued interest and focus from the fire service and authorities would provide the national labs with the incentive to produce a national testing standard.

For now, I’m glad that more are expressing an interest in one of the most severe of our nation’s fire problems. And our collective job is to keep this effort moving forward, because I don’t have any evidence that the manufacturer’s themselves have an interest in developing products that will prevent kitchen stovetop fires.

Perhaps I missed something along the way.

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