If you haven't heard about the "psychological law of self-exception," then you have not heard from John B. Gibson, who labels himself a crusader for fire protection and residential security.

"It's natural for people to think that fires and break-ins happen to other people. That's the element of self-exception," Gibson said the other day when he was in this city. "I travel all the time and talk about fire protection and security because that's my business. You see, I do not say fire prevention. You Can't prevent fires but you can minimize the chance of having a fire irr you house. And you can also take steps to protect the people in a home if a fire occurs."

As vice president of marketing and traveling crusader for the security systems division of Guardian Industries, Inc., Florham Park, N.J., Gibson is really promoting a security system (Dictograph) that has both fire and burglar protection elements. He admits that his system is expensive (average installation $1,1000) but he doesn't apologize for the cost. "It's a matter of individual decision," he added.

However, Gibson's crusade againsst fire and burglars is not limited to selling a product. He quit smoking some years ago "because smoking is the No. 1 cause of fatal fires." He also points to television sets as the prime hazards among all electrical appliances. He said that TV sets store high voltage amounts and are susceptible to static-producing dry air, plus dust and lint. "That's why your TV set should be serviced and cleaned regularly by a qualified technician," he said.

"As rule of thumb on how much a household should spend for fire protection, equate it with the price of the television set or sets in the home," he added.

In addition to advocating an established emergency escape plan to be regularly practiced by members of the family, Gibson also urges householders to remember - even in the critical time of a fire - to escape first and not to consider going back into the house to save things considered valuable. "Those things can be replaced; your life and those of family members cannot be."

What about smoke alarms, which are getting so much advertising and even municipal law attention these days? "Not enough people recognize that a single smoke detector is the lowest level of protection advocated in the fire code of the National Fire Protection Association. It's better to have a combination of inter-locked smoke and heat detectors in almost every area of a home. Thus, all alarms would be activated if one detector goes off. If a fire occurs in the basement and you are sleeping on the second floor, it might be unlikely that you would hear the alarm sounded in the basement," he said.

Generally, two types of smoke detectors are being marketed - ionization and photo-electric. "My personal recommendation is for the photp-electric device because it is faster on a smoldering fire and that's the most common household fire." Gibson favors direct-current-powered detectors over those that are battery-operated simply because they require less attention by the homeowner.