AUSTRALIAN SENATE SMOKE ALARM INQUIRY

Second Hearing  |  Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T.  |  4 Dec 2015

Video Testimony & Hansard Transcripts

First Hearing | Brisbane, Queensland | 26 October 2015  H E R E > > >

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ABCB   Australian Building Codes Board

Witnesses: Dr Brian Ashe, Mr Ray Loveridge, Mr Matthew McDonald, Mr Neil Savery

AFAC   Australian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities Council

MFB     Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board

Witness (AFAC): Commissioner Greg Mullins  |  Witness (MFB): Mr Adam Dalrymple

CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Witnesses: Mr Mark Burgess & Dr Marcus Zipper

FPAA   Fire Protection Association Australia

Witnesses: Mr Chris Orr & Mr Matt Wright

FAST   Fire & Safety Technologies Pty Ltd

Witness: Mr David Isaac

ABCB  Australian Building Codes Board

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) is a Council of Australian Government (COAG) standards writing body that is responsible for the National Construction Code (NCC) which comprises the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA). The ABCB is a member of the Australian Standards Committee that writes the Australian smoke alarm standard.

Witnesses:

ASHE, Dr Brian Samuel William, Director, Australian Building Codes Board

LOVERIDGE, Mr Raymond William, Director, Australian Building Codes Board

McDONALD, Mr Matthew, Group Manager, Australian Building Codes Board

SAVERY, Mr Neil, General Manager, Australian Building Codes Board

AUSTRALIAN SENATE SMOKE ALARM INQUIRY

Hansard Transcript -  Starts at ABCB

Second Hearing - Parliament House Canberra, A.C.T.  |  4 December 2015

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AFAC  Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities Council
MFB    Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board

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"People have said that one is good for flaming fires (ionization) and one is

  good for smoldering (photoelectric). In my experience as a firefighter just

  about every fire I have ever been to started as a smoldering fire and went

  through a stage until it became a flaming fire. To say that they are equal

  and good for different circumstances is to me a fallacy, an absolute myth."

FRNSW Commissioner & AFAC President, Greg Mullins | Australian Senate Smoke Alarm Inquiry
Hansard Transcript | page 3, paragraph 9 |  4 December 2015 (see below)

The MFB is the metropolitan fire service which is located in Melbourne Australia.

AFAC is the peak representative body for all Australian and New Zealand Fire Brigades and is a member of the Australian Standards Committee that writes the Australian smoke alarm standard (AS3786).
Commissioner Greg Mullins is the Commissioner of the New South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, one of the world's largest metropolitan fire brigades and the President of AFAC.

AUSTRALIAN SENATE SMOKE ALARM INQUIRY

Hansard Transcript -  Starts with Commissioner Mullins

Second Hearing - Parliament House Canberra, A.C.T.  |  4 December 2015

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CSIRO  Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization

The Australian Government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) tests smoke alarms to the specifications set out in the Australian smoke alarm standard (AS3786). The CSIRO is a member of the Australian Standards Committee FP002 that writes the Australian smoke alarm standard.

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AUSTRALIAN SENATE SMOKE ALARM INQUIRY

Hansard Transcript -  Starts at CSIRO

Second Hearing - Parliament House Canberra, A.C.T.  |  4 December 2015

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FPAA  Fire Protection Association Australia

Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA Australia) is the national peak body for fire safety, providing information, services and education to the fire protection industry and the community. FPA Australia is a member of the Australian Standards Committee that writes/oversees Australia's smoke alarm standard (AS3786).

"Again, it (the ionization alarm) is not fit for purpose."

Mr Chris Orr, Technical Director

Fire Protection Association Australia

"If I get an alert, I get woken up and I want to find my way to

 the exit, I have got to be able to see the exit. At 50 to 60%

 obscuration, if an ion did go off, then you are not going to
 see it. Again, it is not fit for purpose."

"At 50-60% obscuration if an ion did
go off, then you are not going to see it."

"The thing that we are trying to bring to the table is: we need

  to look at these detection devices in terms of fitness for

  purpose and we do that every day of the week when we
  start to look at commercial buildings. We just do not seem
  to do it when we start to look at residential buildings."

Chris Orr, Technical Director, FPAA | Australian Senate Inquiry
Canberra, Australia | 4 Dec 2015 | Hansard - Page 14, Para 3

Can Australian & U.S. Smoke
 Alarm Standards be Trusted?

See the full report
H E R E > > >

Most smoke alarms currently installed in Australian homes have been tested to Australian Standard AS3786-1993.


What did he mean when Mr Orr wrote above that you would not be able to see an ionization alarm in a fire if the alarm did not go off until the level of visible smoke was
"50-60% obscuration?"


Under Australian government (CSIRO) standard's testing, photoelectric smoke alarms must activate before the level of smoke in the test room exceeds 20% (i.e. 20% light obscuration per metre).  A level of smoke  higher than 20% has been deemed to be unsafe.

 

However, because of a flaw in the Australian standard, ionization alarms have been allowed to pass the standard at a "dangerously high and totally unacceptable" level of smoke, i.e. in all cases over 40% and in most cases at 50-60% smoke.

 

In his testimony to the Australian Senate Inquiry FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullin's stated that the Australian standard was flawed. This is because it allowed ionization alarms to pass at more than double the maximum safe limit of visible smoke (i.e. 20%) set for photoelectric alarms.

 

For a full explanation of how Australian and the U.S. smoke alarm standards are flawed, see the WFSF's report, 'Can Australian and U.S. Smoke Alarm Standards be Trusted?'  Note: The following extract is from page 7, mentions the FPAA'A "50- 60% obscuration."

WFSF Report Published in Australia's
Volunteer Firefighter Magazine - Winter 2013

FPAA's testimony was instrumental in the twenty year
battle for the world's first, nationwide photoelectric legislation.

AUSTRALIAN SENATE SMOKE ALARM INQUIRY

Hansard Transcript -  Starts at FPAA

Second Hearing - Parliament House Canberra, A.C.T.  |  4 December 2015

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AUSTRALIAN SENATE SMOKE ALARM INQUIRY

Hansard Transcript -  Starts at F.A.S.T.

Second Hearing - Parliament House Canberra, A.C.T.  |  4 December 2015

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FAST  Fire & Safety Technologies Pty Ltd - Mr David Isaac

Mr Isaac is the owner of Fire & Safety Technologies and a member of the Australian Standards Committee that writes the Australian smoke alarm standard (AS3786).

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First Hearing | Brisbane, QLD, Australia | 26 Oct 2015   H E R E > > >

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