Fire Safety at Home : Install long-life photoelectric alarms #bestprotection

Smoke-Alarms-Banner []

We recommend you install long-life photoelectric type smoke alarms in your home. They may cost a little more but the benefits are significant.
• They provide a about 10 years smoke detection.
• They remove the frustration of fixing the ‘flat battery beep’ at inconvenient times such as at 3 in the morning.
• The cost of replacement batteries for standard alarms means the long-life one effectively pays for itself over its lifetime.
• You don’t have to climb ladders every year to replace batteries.

Your best protection is to have photoelectric smoke alarms in every bedroom, living area and hallway in your home. Install them in the middle of the ceiling of each room.

But, at a minimum, you should install one standard long-life photoelectric type alarm in the hallway closest to the bedrooms.

NZFS : Make Your Home and Family Fire Safe Brochure

NZFS : More on smoke alarm installation


There are 2 main types of smoke alarm available – ionisation and photoelectric:

Ionisation alarms
Ionisation alarms monitor ions or electrically charged particles in the air. Smoke particles enter the sensing chamber changing the electrical balance of the air. The alarm will sound when the change in the electrical balance reaches a certain level.

Photoelectric alarms (recommended)
Photoelectric alarms have a sensing chamber which uses a beam of light and a light sensor. Smoke particles entering the chamber change the amount of light that reaches the sensor. The alarm sounds when the smoke density reaches a preset level.

Our recommendation for your home
We recommend that you install photoelectric smoke alarms as they provide more effective all-round detection and alarm in all types of fire scenarios and are more likely to alert occupants in time to escape safely.

█ If your home currently only has ionisation alarms installed we recommend that you also install some photoelectric alarms.

Smoke alarms for hearing-impaired
Smoke alarms are available for people with hearing loss. These alarms have extra features such as extra loud and/or lower pitch alarm sounds, flashing strobe lights, or vibrating devices.
Find out more about these alarms and where you can buy them

Australasian standards for smoke alarms
The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) is the representative body in the Australasian region for fire, emergency services, and land management agencies.
Read the AFAC position on smoke alarms for residential accommodation

WHERE TO BUY : Consumer Test (PDF)
Silent Death : Smoke is toxic – and breathing it can kill. So you need an alarm that gives you early warning and more time to escape.

Fire damaged property - window escape route []Fire damage: 660 Castle St, Dunedin – window escape route []

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: – smoke alarms banner


Filed under Democracy, Design, Dunedin, Economics, Events, Fire and Emergency NZ, Heritage, Housing, Media, New Zealand, People, Police, Property, Public interest, Site, University of Otago

16 responses to “Fire Safety at Home : Install long-life photoelectric alarms #bestprotection

  1. Elizabeth

    15.5.16 Stuff: Teen has surgery after fire at Six60 flat in Castle St, Dunedin
    The father of a University of Otago student badly injured in a house fire has spoken at his relief that his son survived the incident – as he sits at the boy’s bedside after major surgery. Four students escaped the blaze after it took hold of the house at 660 Castle Street early Saturday morning. They were forced to smash a window and leap from the second storey to escape.

    15.5.16 ODT: Surgery for student who escaped flat fire
    A Dunedin student has undergone a successful surgery to his hands after a flat fire at 660 Castle St yesterday. Robby McPhail (19), originally of Auckland, suffered second-degree burns to his hands and a broken ankle after breaking his bedroom window and leaping to safety.

    14.5.16 Stuff: Three injured in Six60 Dunedin flat fire after smoke alarms removed
    Three people who jumped from second-story windows after a fire broke out at a famous Dunedin flat had removed their working smoke alarms. All were transported to Dunedin Hospital. One suffered serious burns and was in a critical condition. The blaze broke out about 6.50am on Saturday, Fire Service East Otago area commander Laurence Voight said.

    14.5.16 ODT: Flatmates escape Castle St blaze (+ video)
    A man will undergo surgery for serious burns to his hands after a blaze this morning at the Dunedin flat where the band Six60 formed. The Fire Service says the Castle St flat’s residents are lucky to be alive after two smoke alarms installed in January were found to have been taken down and stowed away in cupboards – a decision described as “an act of stupidity”.

  2. 24 hour Beep Guy

    I’ve got a smoke alarm. It beeps, indicating flat battery. The case is permanently closed and the battery, how you say? inaccessible. Should I throw it out or ask Aunt ‘Basham’ Upp?

    • Elizabeth

      You need to have it replaced by long-life photoelectric alarm which does Not beep….. as noted at post (by NZFS)

    • 24 hour Beep Guy

      Yes, it is a Photoelectric with Hush! Feature. It is no longer beeping. Model RCA (Recording Company of America, made fortune in vinyl electric records). It is one non detachable unit, so no obvious access to battery.

  3. Elizabeth

    Mon, 16 May 2016
    ODT: Smoke alarm focus after Castle St fire
    Campus Watch staff will go door-to-door this week ensuring student flats have working smoke alarms after a potentially fatal fire in Dunedin on Saturday. […] Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said Campus Watch staff would be visiting flats this week to reiterate the “importance” of having working smoke alarms installed. […] Fire investigators and police were continuing investigations yesterday but the cause of the fire would not be known for “weeks”, specialist fire investigator Mike Harrison, of Dunedin, said.

  4. Elizabeth

    Flat owner Brian Mee, of Ashburton, would make no comment on when or why the fire escapes were taken down.

    Tue, 17 May 2016
    ODT: Burnt flat used to have fire escapes
    Fire escapes were removed last year from a Castle St flat that went up in flames on Saturday, injuring three students. An Otago Daily Times photograph shows fire escapes on either side of a second-storey room were in place in March last year but had since been removed.

    via whatifdunedin [click to enlarge]
    Google Street View (via Google Earth) - 660 Castle St, Dunedin Nov 2012Image grab 17.5.16 – Google Street View (via Google Earth) – 660 Castle St, Dunedin Nov 2012

  5. Elizabeth

    Interesting: Police will not ‘confirm the fire was being treated as suspicious’.

    Thu, 19 May 2016
    ODT: Castle St fire witnesses sought
    Police are seeking witnesses to Saturday’s Castle St flat fire. Police said yesterday they were “continuing to investigate” the blaze at 660 Castle St, which occurred about 6.30am. Police wanted to speak to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in the vicinity of Castle St and Cumberland St between 6pm on Friday and 7am on Saturday.

  6. Elizabeth

    Sweep your chimneys…..

    ### Wed, 25 May 2016 4:56 pm
    Firefighters offer safety advice
    Local firefighters are urging residents to think carefully about home heating as the year slides into winter. There were more than 3000 house fires throughout the country last year.
    Ch39 Link

    Channel 39 Published on May 24, 2016
    Firefighters offer safety advice

  7. Gurglars

    After reading this thread I went to the Big Red Box and bought one of the new flash alarms for $26.95 (no change from $27) and upon getting home screwed the bloody thing in the kitchen. As soon as I started to cook the crazy monster started screaming at me, almost reintroducing the serious headache. I can now only eat Salads (Katinka tomatoes) and cannot even boil an egg. Can any agony aunt please provide a solution!

    • Elizabeth

      Call NZFS and have them advise proper installation – they will most likely call round and do the job for you free of charge.

  8. Gurglars

    Elizabeth, Your the last person I would describe as “Agony Aunt”

    For courage under fire I award you with the plastic replica of le medaille d’or!

    However what may I ask is the New Zealand Forest Service doing in this role?

    Perhaps unlike much of the local government public service they can see

    “The Forest for the Trees!”

  9. Elizabeth

    Wed, 22 Jun 2016
    ODT: Castle St flat fire suspicious
    Police have confirmed they are treating a fire in the student flat at 660 Castle St in Dunedin as suspicious. It was thought the fire was regarded as suspicious when police took over the investigation from specialist fire investigators, but until yesterday it had not been confirmed.

  10. Elizabeth

    Mon, 15 Aug 2016
    Students rescued by campus staff
    The quick thinking of campus patrol staff saved Dunedin students from a suspicious flat fire yesterday. Fire Service spokesman Andrew Norris said firefighters from Dunedin City and Willowbank Stations were called to a fire in the wall of a student flat in Albany St at 3am yesterday. […] Campus Watch staff who evacuated the residents saw fire burning on an outside wall on the flat’s eastern side and in the roof.

  11. Elizabeth

    Received from Bev Butler
    Thu, 1 Sep 2016 at 11:09 a.m.

    Message: Last night legislation went through Queensland Government re photoelectric smoke alarms.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Emma McBryde
    Date: Thursday, 1 September 2016
    Subject: re: smoke alarms legislation

    Here is the media statement.

    Thank you,

    Emma McBryde

    Office of the Hon. Bill Byrne MP
    Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and
    Minister for Corrective Services


    P 07 3035 8323 M 0400 622 433

    State Law Building 50 Ann Street Brisbane QLD 4000

  12. Elizabeth

    Tue, 28 Mar 2017
    ODT: Renovations start at 660 Castle St
    Work has begun on the renovation of a fire-damaged Dunedin student landmark. The flat at 660 Castle St was damaged by a suspicious fire early on May 14 last year. […] Workers were seen at the student area flat last week. Cont/

    Building owner: retired Ashburton lawyer Brian Mee.

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