You now only have about 3 minutes after the fire alarm goes off, to get out of your home safely. That time has dramatically dropped over the years — it used to be 17 minutes.

“The products now-a-days are all synthetic,” says Thomas Styczynski, Fire Chief Village of Alsip. “They are hydrocarbons, a solid form of gasoline if you will. They will ignite quicker, they give off different gasses. Besides carbon monoxide, they give off cyanide gases, all those which are toxic to humans.” 

And it’s not just furniture causing faster fires. Research at Underwriter Laboratories in Northbrook has shown that the modern construction materials can put you at a higher risk. 

“Lightweight construction uses laminated beams and trusses and under normal circumstances these are great,” says contractor and TV show host Ron Hazelton. “But in fire they collapse much sooner than conventional wood.” 

Hazelton showed the I-Team two examples. The bigger piece of wood is solid and used in older construction. The other is many pieces of wood compressed together, with glue, found in newer homes.

“What happens with solid wood is it begins to burn from the outside in, so the outside may char but the interior of it the structural integrity is there so it tends to fail slowly and you know when it is going to go,” Hazleton says. “This burns hotter and more quickly, and when it fails, it fails almost instantaneously.”

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