May 12th, 2011 - NTNews.com.au
NEARLY all the smoke detectors fitted in NT homes offer no protection against the kind of fires that kill, two experts have said.
Retired businessman and fireman Adrian Butler and American fire chief Mark McGinn called on the Territory Government to ban ionisation alarms and replace them with photoelectric devices.
They said it would be a "political decision" if householders were subsidised to switch over.
The Government said yesterday mandatory laws to fit improved smoke alarms could come into effect soon.
Mr Butler, who runs the World Fire Safety Foundation, said 99 per cent of NT homes had the ionisation alarms.
"We often hear of fires .. and how one person got out safely but the other person died. We never blame the alarm and ask why it didn't go off when needed."
Mr Butler said the alarms sounded so often while householders were making toast that 25 per cent of them were disconnected within the first year.
"Any other safety device with that kind of record would be banned," he said.
"It's fraudulent even to call the ionisation alarms 'smoke detectors'. They're not."
Mr Butler said ionisation alarms were incapable of detecting the smouldering, low-heat fires in faulty electrical appliances.
"By the time the real smoke starts and the alarm goes off, it's often too late," he said.
Mr Butler said the safety concerns had nothing to do with whether home alarms were battery-operated or electric.
Ionisation devices, which have been banned in several American states, contain radioactive elements.