Between 2010 and 2021, there were a total of 82,000 non-fatal casualties from over 420,000 dwelling fires across England, Scotland and Wales.
A key statistic that points to this in England alone was a 28% failure rate of smoke alarms.
Smoking is one of the main causes of this, particularly in homes, while batteries (which are used in vapes) cause a significant number of fires when not recycled responsibly.
If the point of a smoke alarm is to protect the public in shared spaces like hotels and UK citizens at home, a common question asked is whether vapes set off fire alarms? The quick answer to this problem is yes – a vape can trigger a fire alarm or carbon monoxide detector, but it depends on how close a person is to a smoke alarm, and the type of smoke alarm in the building.
Do Vapes Set Off Fire Alarms?
The chances are in the past there was an occasion where you have vaped, and nothing has happened with a nearby fire alarm.
Plenty of vapers on Quora can attest to that.
But if you get close enough to a smoke detection device, the particles from exhaled vapour will act in the same way as cigarette smoke does.
The particles if directly aimed at the device will set off the alarm – whether it’s ionisation detection alarms, heat-based trigger alarms or optical alarms.
Granted, vapour from e-cigarettes lingers in the air for a much shorter time than cigarette smoke, and does not passively endanger individuals like cigarettes, based on studies.
However, the process is essentially the same and can activate an alarm if you puff in the vicinity of a device. Even the tiniest particles which are much thinner than smoke can creep into a fire alarm, activating the trigger that in some cases notifies the fire brigade, if you’re vaping in a public place with the latest equipment. This is obviously something you’ll want to avoid!
What are the Different Types of Smoke Alarms?
An optical alarm is the most likely to set off the smoke detector because of the way it detects smoke.
Inside the alarm are optical light beams and when smoke, or vapour enters the alarm and breaks the beam, the alarm will sound.
The issue here is that optical alarms are not specifically looking for smoke, it’s anything in the air that breaks the infrared beam. Granted you’ve got a little more leeway with vapour than you do with cigarette smoke, but it isn’t uncommon for these alarms to be triggered by vaping. It’s also worthwhile considering that hotel alarms are likely to be more sensitive than the ones you’re used to having at home.
Ionization smoke detectors work differently to optical alarms as they use a small amount of radioactive material which works alongside charged plates to create a current between them.
The idea is that the air between them in this setup is ‘Ionized’ and a current forms between the two plates.
Smoke particles break this current and specifically smoke particles, so vapour is very unlikely to set off the alarm. However, it is not completely unknown and various stories in recent years have emerged where vaping near an ionized smoke detector has indeed set it off.
Heat Based Detectors
These are not seen very much anymore in crowded or sensitive areas as typically they take longer to trigger the alarm as it’s relying only on heat from a fire reaching it.
You’re more likely to find a heat alarm in a kitchen than in a hotel room.
Because it relies solely on heat detection, and vapour isn’t hot, it’s very unlikely that vaping even directly into a heat alarm would set it off.
How to Vape Without Setting Off the Smoke Alarm
The best-case scenario is you vape with no issues, get the nicotine you need, and keep safe while ensuring the fire alarm is still working. While it’s never advised in a public space and often not permitted by businesses based on their discretion, at home you can follow the below tips to prevent setting the alarm off:
- The first one is obvious. Keep away from the smoke alarm!
- Vape in a well-ventilated room, with a window ideally open that you can puff the particles out of to ensure it doesn’t bother anyone else in the room.
- Opt for a low-powered vape kit that produces only small amounts of cloud.
- Try a high PG e-liquid or nic salt e-liquid that doesn’t produce as much vapour. The higher the amount of VG, the bigger the clouds which may bother the alarm.
What are the Rules Regarding Vaping in a Hotel Room?
While vaping is not illegal in public spaces like smoking, it’s up to the discretion of the establishment you’re visiting whether vaping is permitted or not. Some hotels have no issue at all with you vaping in the rooms, whilst others have rules where they forbid vaping entirely inside the premises, the same as smoking.
It’s best to check with the hotel directly before as setting off the smoke alarm could result in a fine, or a “room cleaning fee” based on smoke detection. They even have the right to kick you out of the room and ask you to leave the premise, if they think you’re damaging the property and potentially disturbing their guests. Best to ask when you’re checking in or before arrival.
Most hotels will also have designated smoking areas around the outside of the hotel or in an outside bar area.
So, will vaping set off hotel fire alarms? Ultimately, we advise that you follow the rules of the hotel you’re staying in to ensure that you don’t run into any issues. Vaping in a room where it isn’t explicitly allowed could trigger a false fire alarm, and you don’t want to be the guest that caused a mandatory evacuation at 4am, nor risk a fine.
And the same can be said of any public area where a fire alarm exists. For instance, on a plane vaping e-cigarettes is not allowed under any circumstances and can lead to similar fines, or at the very least being removed from the plane. They have sensitive alarms and rightly so in case of an emergency.
Don’t tempt fate by trying to vape where you should not.
Although the laws are more lenient than smoking for vaping in public, and rightly so, considering it’s advised as an alternative to help smokers quit the habit, to be polite and considerate of others you should follow the same rules as you would smoking cigarettes.
In hotels, unless told that you can do so in a specific hotel room, keep on the safe side and vape outdoors before entering the premises. Vaping is unlikely to set off an alarm unless you are directly near it, so avoid the risk and vape only in an appropriate place. This is not only best for your safety, others in the building/public place and the alarm itself, but creates a better image for vaping as a cessation tool.
Between 2010 and 2021, there were a total of 82,000 non-fatal casualties from over 420,000 dwelling fires across England, Scotland and Wales. A key statistic that points to this in England alone was a 28% failure rate of smoke alarms.