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Do you have the safest smoke alarm installed in your home?

Photoelectric versus ionisation smoke detectors

In August 2011, Australia’s worst house fire took the lives of 11 people: three women, four teenagers and four children under the age of 10 from two families. The two-storey house was damaged to such an extent that the exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined nearly three years later.

But regardless of the cause of the fire, one thing can be certain. The type of smoke alarm you install in your home is crucial to your chance of survival and that of your family. David Isaac is Australia’s leading fire expert, and he spoke on 60 Minutes this week to explain the crucial difference between the two types of smoke alarms that are available in Australia.

When you have a house fire, the most important thing you need is time. Time to ensure that each and every member of the household is safely outside the home before the fire takes hold and the opportunity to escape is lost. With any fire, it is generally the smoke that is the first indicator of that fire. However, the type of smoke detector fitted in more than 90 percent of Australian homes is the ionisation smoke detector. The ionisation smoke detector only sets off its alarm when the fire has reached the flaming stage – it only reacts to heat and flames – not smoke. Once a fire has reached this stage there are less than three minutes for occupants to get out of the house. This is an extremely short amount of time, and the ability to get out can be compromised by the presence of blinding and asphyxiating smoke.

There is another smoke alarm on the market though – one that is set off at the detection of smoke. The photoelectric smoke detector will give you precious extra time to get everyone out of the home safely.

Portland Night Patrol professionally installs and maintains photoelectric alarms, and will happily provide you with advice and a quote for your home. Use the recent 60 Minutes special investigation into this tragedy as a learning experience for you and your family. Practice fire drills with the household on a regular basis, install photoelectric alarm systems and ensure your future safety.

The Alarming Truth Part One

The Alarming Truth Part Two

Extended interview with David Isaac