Monday 5 June 2006 The Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) has today indicated that the more readily available ionisation smoke alarms purchased by most Australian householders may not be as effective, in all circumstances, as photo-electric smoke alarms. These conclusions have been reached by AFAC as a result of early findings from research being conducted by the fire industry's Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) on its behalf. The findings of this research conclude that photo-electric alarms are consistently more effective than ionisation alarms at detecting smouldering fires in homes.
'For some fires that occur in the home, such as smouldering fires, ionisation alarms may not alert occupants in time to escape safely. Photo-electric alarms increase the likelihood of all types of fire being detected in the home. This increases the likelihood that occupants will have enough time to escape,' said Len Foster, Chief Executive Officer, AFAC.
In a review of global literature, the research found that photo-electric alarms consistently provide sufficient time for occupants to escape from smouldering and flaming fires, provided the alarms are installed and maintained properly and the occupants hear them. Until recently, consumers have been left to choose the most appropriate smoke alarms for their homes. Most consumers have chosen the cheaper and more common ionisation smoke alarm. This research indicates that although both ionisation and photo-electric smoke alarms provide occupants time to escape, it concludes that photo-electric alarms should be promoted as the technology of choice.
Although in the past 30 years, ionisation alarms have helped to save the lives of hundreds of people in Australia and New Zealand, Mr Foster urged all householders to supplement their existing ionisation smoke alarms with photo-electric ones. Media release on Smoke alarms 1 June 2006 (GTV9) For households that do not have smoke alarms, Mr Foster urged they be installed. He also urged householders to ensure that their smoke alarms work. 'Unfortunately, those who are most at risk from fire are unlikely to have an alarm, or have removed the batteries.' he said.
Further details of AFAC's position on smoke alarms for residential accommodation can be found at http://knowledgeweb.afac.com.au/positions/documents/AFACSmokeAlarmposition1June2006.pdf
AFAC is the peak representative body for fire, emergency services and land management agencies in the Australasian region.