Millions of Homes in Danger from Slow Smoke Detectors
Daily Telegraph, Sydney, NSW, 05 May, 2011

The World Fire Safety Foundation
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Vermont, USA

They even labelled the most popular type of smoke alarm "fraudulent".

The head of the World Fire Safety Foundation is now meeting Australian fire brigades and government officials in a desperate effort to get the offending devices, ionisation smoke alarms, replaced with more effective devices.

WFSF chairman Adrian Butler said millions of properties with those detectors - which account for more than 95 per cent of those in residences - are at risk. "No one wants to admit publicly these things are defective," he said. "We believe it's fraudulent to call them a smoke alarm."

Ionisation smoke alarms - the cheapest on the market - are banned in the sleeping areas and exits of commercial buildings because they do not catch fires early enough.

They are triggered by combustion particles coming from flame and heat. Even NSW Fire Brigades' own fact sheet admits the devices "may be slow to respond to slow, smouldering fires".

The WFSF wants the Australian standard changed so homes must be fitted with photoelectric smoke alarms, which "see" smoke. However, it fears authorities will be reluctant because conceding the alarm's failings could leave them open to legal action.

Too slow to sound an alarm - millions of homes in danger from slow smoke detectors

Joe Hildebrand   |   The Daily Telegraph   |   May 05, 2011 12:00AM

"If they come out and say 'Yeah, these things are faulty' then there's litigation," Volunteer Fire Fighter Association president Peter Cannon said.

"Everybody thinks that they work but they only work with heat and naked flame. Tens of thousands of people have died worldwide over this."

Fire And Rescue NSW said it too now recommended photoelectric smoke alarms over ionisation ones. A spokesman said the standard would be reviewed as new research came in.

"There is no doubt both types of smoke alarms are effective however, on balance, fire services recommend photoelectric alarms, which can sometimes respond faster and are less prone to annoying false alarms,' he added.

"To maximise early warning, Fire And Rescue NSW recommends installation of photoelectric smoke alarms, hard-wired and interconnected, in all residential accommodation."

An estimated 10,000 people in the US alone have died from a lack of warning from ionisation smoke alarms since 1990. Upgrading alarms there has already saved lives, the WFSF said.

Mr Butler added the group had to get action in the US to make Australian authorities pay attention.

MILLIONS of homes in Australia are at risk because their smoke detectors are slow to detect a fire, often going off when it's too late, fire safety experts have warned.

World Fire Safety Foundation Comments:

1. The Standard “would be reviewed”:
Fire & Rescue NSW's spokesman claimed:
"the standard would be reviewed as new research came in."

FALSE - Australia's Smoke Alarm Standard (AS3786) was reviewed, over three years ago, and found to be dangerously flawed.  The corrected, draft Standard was published in August 2008:

However, bureaucrats at the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) have failed to adopt the draft standard into legislation, despite repeated attempts for them to do so by the team of twenty technical experts from Standards Australia’s Committee FP002:

Note 1: The ABCB adopted the change to AS1670.1, Australia’s commercial installation standard, into legislation into the Building Code of Australia in April 2004. Since April, 2004 photoelectric smoke alarms/detectors have been mandatory in all sleeping areas and all exit paths in all new commercial buildings to which the Standard applies.

Note 2: Under the corrected draft standard (AS3786), which applies to all Australian homes, ionization smoke alarms would have to pass a VALID test for smoke (the existing test is flawed which is why they are able to pass it).  Empirical scientific evidence held by the CSIRO and smoke alarm manufacturers proves ionization smoke alarms have been unable to pass the valid test for smoke that photoelectric alarms must pass, since 1993.

2. Ionisation Smoke Alarms are “Effective”:
Fire & Rescue NSW's spokesman claimed:
"There is no doubt both types of smoke alarms are effective..."

FALSE - The official position of the Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), the peak representative body of all Australian and New Zealand Fire Brigades, states:
"That all residential accommodation be fitted with photoelectric smoke alarms . . . ionisation smoke alarms may not operate in time to alert occupants early enough to escape from smouldering fires."
How can a smoke alarm be "effective" if it may not operate in time to alert you early enough to escape from a smouldering fire?":

Note 1: AFAC's official position was published 01 June, 2006.

Note 2: Why haven't the public been told?

It is Time to Tell the Public the Truth:

1. Watch: 'Smoke Alarm Recall'

2. Read: ‘Why are the Public, Fire Fighters and Fire Industry Personnel STILL
               Not Being Told the Truth about Smoke Alarms?’  Here > > >sa.html

Why are the Public STILL
Not being Told the Truth?

Open Letters and Freedom
of Information Act Applications

Mandatory U.S. Smoke Alarm Legislation Here > > >

Australian Building
Codes Board (ABCB)

The Volunteer Fire
Fighters Association