Fair Go discovers smoke alarms that failed tests to detect smoke

Hadyn Jones
Source: Fair Go

A Fair Go investigation has discovered smoke alarms on sale that failed eight tests in a row to detect smoke.

The unbranded smoke alarms are available from a variety of online retailers and feature a large red button in the middle. Dunedin man Hans Schneider tipped off Fair Go to their existence when he bought a four-pack and tested three of them in his lounge. All three failed to detect smoke.

"This is outrageous, selling lifesaving equipment obviously without testing," Schneider said.

The same alarm in a recent test by UK-based consumer watchdog Which failed dismally to detect smoke in eight tests using fires ignited by different fuels.

"If you think you own one of these products that frankly does nothing, I’d say go out and get a new one ASAP," Which's Lisa Webb said.

"It is absolutely appalling that anyone is selling these."

Which has given the smoke alarm a ‘don’t buy’ warning and they are constantly trying to get them taken off the market.

Schneider bought the alarms on the global marketplace website AliExpress.

Other Fair Go viewers have questioned the validity of other popular smoke alarms with 10-year-old batteries. The importers of the Firehawk brand say it's vital people maintain their alarms by vacuuming regularly and checking to see if small insects have got inside the alarm, as they can create false alarms. They explained the units are fitted with superior Japanese batteries, and that cold rooms can also affect battery life.

One viewer purchased Mitre 10’s Jobmate-branded smoke alarm and said it would constantly beep when there was no fire. Mitre 10 says a detector going off when there’s not a fire means it's functioning well. The alarms are designed to alert people when they need cleaning or the battery is low. It has also offered for people to pop into Mitre 10 to get their Jobmate smoke alarms replaced if people have any concerns.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand says smoke alarms from New Zealand-based retailers, either in a shop or online, are generally of good quality. It recommends installing an alarm in every bedroom and living area in your home.