It’s been a long time coming and we may now be seeing the end of ionisation smoke alarms.
A number of NZ DIY retail stores have opted to discontinue all ionisation smoke alarm models after a recent article from Consumer NZ was released. The article highlighted the fact that ionisation smoke alarms failed to recognise smouldering fires in an adequate amount of time after they were put through a number of tests (this fact has been known for a couple of decades, which is the reason CAVIUS have never manufactured an ionisation smoke alarm). An ionisation smoke alarm may pick up on flames but that is no use if a house has already been engulfed in deadly smoke. Consumer NZ head of testing Dr Paul Smith backed the decision – “Removing a product that doesn’t perform a critical safety task effectively is a major win for New Zealand consumers”.
The recent stores to announce they will stop selling ionisation smoke alarm models include Mitre 10 and Hammer Hardware, who have stopped selling immediately, and PlaceMakers and Bunnings, who will run their stock out. It is likely many more will follow suit.
Fires that start in the bedroom, lounge, and hallways are likely to start with smouldering smoke due to carpeted areas, furniture, and curtains. It is in these cases that a photoelectric smoke alarm will be able to detect the density of the smoke and sound an alarm. In areas such as the kitchen, garage, laundry, or workshop, where many electrical appliances are present, it is more likely a fast flaming fire will occur. For these areas a thermal heat alarm is highly recommended.