The debate has been raised this week about what types of smoke alarms should be installed in homes.
The Fire Service says people should not lose faith in smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms are far better than no smoke alarms at all.
'In most fatal fires in New Zealand no smoke alarms were installed, and most fires in this country begin in the kitchen; hot flaming fires well up to the ionisation smoke alarms most commonly used in this country,' says fire engineer Dr Paula Beever.
Dr Beever is a world recognised authority in fire engineering and runs the Fire Service's risk management arm.
She says that each year since 2002, 1,000 house fires have been successfully detected by smoke alarms, and two-thirds of these fires controlled without any damage to the house.
'Smoke alarms do save lives. All of them give people sufficient warning time to get everyone out - that is why we always advise people to get smoke alarms installed and practice your escape plans.'
She says a consortium of Australasian fire authorities, including New Zealand, has commissioned research into smoke alarms and the results are due to be released shortly.
'We will adopt the findings as soon as they are available.'
Paula says fire safety is not just about smoke alarms which are, at the end of the day, the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
'We are always urging people to stop fires happening in the first place. There are three causes of fires - men, women and children. For instance one of our main messages is 'keep looking while you're cooking'.