Do Vapes Set off Fire Alarms?

By Eina Panayotova

vape smoke & fire alarm

Vaping shouldn’t trigger smoke detectors – but it can sometimes happen. Given vapes produce vapour, and not smoke, why would smoke alarms go off? There are a few factors at play here; the type of smoke detector you have, what triggers it, and the density of the vapour coming from your vape. Make sure to only vape where allowed and take our tips into consideration, and you should be okay.

What Causes a Fire Alarm to go off?

Even in places where you’re allowed to vape, you will come across fire alarms, so to stop any awkward incidents occurring, you must know what causes a fire alarm to go off. Aside from the obvious, there’s multiple other reasons why a fire alarm can go off. Smoke detectors have an ion current or optical light beams and, when that current or beam is broken, the alarm is triggered1. False positives can be caused by quite a few things, even organic compounds in paint – surprising, we know. But this can also depend on the type of smoke detector being used.

Here are the different types of detectors, and examples of what could possibly cause them to go off:

Optical

This smoke detector is the most common of the four and unfortunately, it’s the most likely to be triggered by a vape. Photoelectric-based detectors use optical light beams to detect smoke2, so when there’s a high amount of vapour which can surround and cover the beam, there’s a chance it will go off, even if it’s not actually smoke.

Ionisation

This detector is trickier for a vaper, as the mechanism is sensitive to changes in its environment. Without getting too technical, an ionisation-based detector generates a current that can be broken by smoke particles3 or, in some cases, vapour particles. Vapour produced by vapes has different particles to smoke but in a few rare cases, vapes have been known to set off these detectors.

Heat Alarms

Heat alarms aren’t very common, often you can find them in kitchens where they detect high levels of heat and not smoke. Luckily, you wouldn’t have to worry when vaping around one of these, as vaping produces nowhere near enough heat to trigger the alarm.

Combined Alarms

You can also come across combined detectors such as a combined optical smoke and heat alarm which decreases false alarms as well as increases the speed of detection.

How to Sensibly Vape When Near a Fire Alarm

Even if they’re not meant to set off fire alarms, there are circumstances where they go off because of vaping. To help, we have put together a list of tips to try to prevent any accidental alarm triggers in the future if you decide to vape indoors.

Vape in a room with good ventilation

A room with good ventilation will stop vapour building up and potentially triggering an alarm. Try opening a window or sticking to areas that aren’t closed off if you can!

Don’t vape too close to a smoke detector

This may be obvious, but one of the best ways to avoid setting off a fire alarm with a vape is to make sure you’re not too close to the smoke detector. Keep as big of a distance as possible and you’ll greatly reduce the odds of setting off the alarm.

We know creating a large cloud of vapour can sometimes be enjoyable, but let’s face it, it’s not worth it if it means it can potentially ruin your day, so just keep the vapour cloud for outdoors.

It’s not just accidentally setting off a fire alarm that you want to steer clear of, there are also restrictions on where you can vape indoors. Find out more about the laws surrounding vaping indoors and always follow local rules on where you can and cannot vape.

Does Using an IQOS Device Set off Fire Alarms?

If you’re thinking, ‘what about IQOS device users? Are we in danger of setting off fire alarms too? Then the section below is for you.

An IQOS device is different from an e-cigarette because it heats real tobacco instead of using liquid. You won’t get the same thick vapour from an IQOS device as you might get from vape devices. So, what does that mean when it comes to triggering smoke detectors?Well, despite it being tobacco, unlike cigarettes there is no smoke or negative impact on indoor air quality so it’s still very unlikely to set off a fire alarm - but this doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Just like vapers, IQOS users should stick to legally designated locations. When those locations have smoke detectors, you can use the same tips we have given for vaping and hopefully you won’t set off any alarms by accident.



1https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Staying-safe/Safety-equipment/Smoke-alarms/Ionization-vs-photoelectric

2 https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/smoke-detectors.html

3 https://www.epa.gov/radtown/americium-ionization-smoke-detectors

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