CPSC Volunteer– Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who is involved in the study?

The Survey on Usage and Functionality of Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (SCOA) in Households is sponsored by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). EurekaFacts, an independent social science research firm, is conducting the SCOA survey on behalf of CPSC. 


What are the goals and purpose of the study? 

To obtain the most accurate results, we are conducting in-home direct testing of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. We are also administering a questionnaire to the head-of-household about knowledge, behavior, and perceptions about fire safety and maintenance/usage of their alarms. Findings will contribute to evidence-informed policy and practice interventions that will increase the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms in all US homes.


What makes this effort unique from other surveys and smoke installation programs?

This effort will collect information representative of all US households, not only high-risk communities. Also, this will be the first study to establish a baseline of homes with CO alarms and their operability rate.


Where and when is the study being conducted?

Data collection will occur between 2019 and 2020 in 24 randomly selected metropolitan areas across the country. The EurekaFacts website has the latest information on locations and dates.


How many homes are being interviewed?

The SCOA survey seeks to collect information from a total of 1,185 US households. The number of in-home interviews per metropolitan area will range based on the area’s population and our sample needs. Your involvement is essential to reaching our goal in each area.


What are the roles and responsibilities involved in the in-home interview? 

A qualified two-member survey team will visit households in their area. Both team members will present their government-issued IDs and their official credentials to confirm their identity. One team member, the alarm specialist, who is trained and certified to inspect and test smoke alarms, will be responsible for testing all smoke and CO alarms to determine if they are functional. The other member, the survey specialist, will be responsible for administering the survey questions to the participant. Though each team member has separate roles, they are expected to undergo the same full online training, understand all procedures and processes, and coordinate and communicate in a professional manner to make the interview successful.


What is involved with online training?

To ensure validity, all survey team members are required to partake in online training to understand all processes and procedures involved with preparing for and conducting interviews from start to end. They will be sent an interactive PowerPoint and several other training documents, which can be viewed at a time convenient to them. The training includes topics such as:

  • purpose and goals of the study
  • materials overview and handling
  • technology usage
  • team member dynamics
  • procedures upon arriving and entering the home
  • conducting the survey and alarm testing
  • final steps before exiting the home
  • post-interview procedures to ensure data delivery and security of all materials


What is the time commitment for an alarm or survey specialist?

The required online training is an interactive PowerPoint and several other training documents which can be viewed at a time convenient to them. Though our exact needs will vary based on location, we ask for a meaningful commitment. Because this study requires knocking on doors to ask for participation, we estimate about half a day on Friday to hang the door hangers and full 8-hour days on Saturday and Sunday to knock on doors and conduct interviews. The exact number of weekends needed will vary by location and response rate.


smoke detector testing

CPSC SCOA alarm specialist

What are the specific duties of the alarm specialists?

The alarm specialist’s job is to inspect, test, and take three photographs of each smoke and CO alarm present in the household. Upon testing each alarm, if an alarm is found not to be functioning, they will first change the batteries (if applicable). If the alarm still doesn’t function, they will remove the alarm with the homeowner’s permission. Alarm specialists should be able to stand on a ladder and work over their heads.


CSPC SCOA survey specialist

CPSC SCOA survey specialist

What are the specific duties of the survey specialists?

The survey specialist’s primary job is to use the provided tablet to administer the survey to the participant and record their answers. They will need to communicate with the alarm specialist as they test the alarms to record the information on the tablet. The survey specialist is also responsible for handling all administrative tasks.


What will happen to non-functioning alarms?

Specific scenarios and logistics regarding removal and shipment of non-functional alarms will be covered in-depth during the training and provided in a written guide to reference during in-home visits. The goal is to have non-functioning alarms be sent to the CPSC labs for further inspection. Depending on the number of alarms to be collected, they will either be mailed individually in pre-labeled bubble mailers or sent in larger batches. The exact logistics will be determined between the interview teams and EurekaFacts.

Participants will be given a new ten-year sealed alarm for them to install as a replacement. EurekaFacts will collaborate with fire safety experts to confirm best practices for each area.


What type of alarms are the alarm specialists going to be inspecting?

As part of the screening process, in-home interviews will only take place in homes with alarms not connected to a central alarm, which would dispatch emergency services when triggered. Alarm specialists should expect to encounter a variety of battery-powered and hardwired smoke and CO alarms.


Is this a volunteer position?

Yes. We are requesting as much in-kind support as possible. If you are very interested in assisting our efforts but are limited in some capacity, please still contact us.


Who can volunteer for this position?

We are most interested in firehouses and fire departments who can provide their support as they are known and build trust with the community. Charities, companies, and other organizations that have experience with smoke and CO alarms and fire safety issues are also welcome to volunteer.

Can I be on a team with someone I know?

Sure! If two people have similar availabilities and desire to work together, then we work to keep them teamed up. This will increase efficiency in managing materials and ensure a natural and engaging team dynamic while in the home.


What other kinds of support or materials are needed?

Though we are most in need of volunteers to act as alarm and survey specialists, we are also asking for use of items that are not easily shipped. Ladders/step stools, cordless drills with 3/16” drill bit, tape measures, screwdrivers, and hammers are our largest need that we are hoping each volunteer or firehouse can provide.

EurekaFacts will be providing replacement alarms, the alarm testing kits, tablet for survey administration, reference guides, pre-labeled bubble mailers for shipping non-functioning alarms, and extraneous materials.


What are the possible benefits and risks of being a part of this study?

Benefits: Volunteers will have a direct impact by updating/creating information about smoke and CO alarms. This will inform state/local regulations, public safety education and campaigns, and technological improvements. They will interact with an array of community members and ultimately protect property and save thousands of lives.

Risks: Volunteers may encounter common electrical dangers when disconnecting alarms and may need to mitigate unknown circumstances of households.


Can I view the final survey?

Yes. The full survey and methodology are publicly available on the online Federal Register at https://bit.ly/2MqDBIp 

Whom can I contact if I have additional questions or need further information?

Please email the EurekaFacts team at CPSCvolunteers@EurekaFacts.com for a direct response. Please include the following information: name, best contact information, affiliated department or organization, role, state and zip code, the type of position you are qualified/ interested in, and any questions you have. One of the EurekaFacts team members will respond to you as quickly as possible.






OMB Control No. 3041-0180