Consumer watchdog calling for ionisation smoke alarms to be pulled from shelves due to slow detection of smoke

Kate Nicol-Williams
Source: 1News

Consumer New Zealand is calling for ionisation smoke alarms to be pulled from shop shelves following the outcome of its test.

The test was carried out with a smoke box on 20 different smoke alarms, the majority the photoelectric type and four of which were ionisation alarms, on fast flaming fires and slow-burning, smouldering fires.

While all alarms made a warning eventually, the ionisation alarms were a lot slower to sound the alarm during smouldering fires, which the watchdog's head of testing Paul Smith says is "dangerous."

"Smoudlering fires comes from things like upholstery foam, dodgy wiring in the walls, an extension cable that you’ve left plugged in and wrapped up, or a towel draped over the heater," he said.

He said smoke is the cause of many deaths in house fires and with many occurring overnight, any extra time would be useful.

"Every minute is valuable to be able to get everyone awake and to get out of the house," he said.

Mr Smith said Consumer New Zealand is communicating with retailers to explain why they should not be sold rather than looking for government intervention over their sale.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has recommended the photoelectric type with long battery life for a decade but says any working smoke alarm is better than none.

A previous information video for FENZ said over 80 per cent of fatal house fires involve a faulty smoke alarm or where the household doesn't have one.

Landlords replacing smoke alarms in properties must install photoelectric, long battery life smoke alarms, as stated in the Residential Tenancies Act.

Sale of ionisation alarms in NZ:

The Warehouse stopped sale of ionisation alarms last year.

Mitre 10 sells ionisation alarms, does not recommend customers solely use ionisation alarms.

Bunnings sells ionisation alarms.

PlaceMakers sells ionisation alarms, reviewing position following Consumer New Zealand findings.

Hammer Hardware – some stores sell ionisation alarms.

Foodstuffs (Pak N Save and New World) – Sells ionisation alarms, recommends photoelectric alarms.

Countdown – Stopped ordering ionisation alarms in February, a few may still be on the shelves.