CSIRO to keep alarm data
A Queensland court has allowed the CSIRO to keep its smoke alarm data hidden.
Campaigners had been pushing for the release of data from smoke alarm tests conducted from 1993 to 2015, which they say would show that ionisation alarms are not as good in response to common or smouldering fires as photoelectric alarms.
But Brisbane’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal has ruled the documents are exempt from Freedom of Information laws because of their commercial sensitivity and the likelihood that CSIRO would conduct these tests in competition with others in future.
“I was shocked and appalled, given it was such an important decision involving public safety,” Bev Butler from the World Fire Safety Foundation has told the ABC.
“The CSIRO, the Australian Government and the manufacturers, they all know that these ionisation alarms are not fit for purpose.”
Ionisation alarms are common in Australia, despite being blamed for thousands of deaths worldwide.
There has been a global campaign to move to mandatory photoelectric alarms for decades.
Standalone ionisation alarms should leave the US the market by 2020 after new, stricter standards were put in place.
The US decision came after its National Institute for Standards and Technology found ionisation alarms take an average of 30 to 33 minutes longer than photoelectric alarms to respond to smouldering fires.
The Australian Building Codes Board has defended its standard.
“There is no statistically significant difference between the two types of smoke detector technologies being able to predict and detect what might be the likely next fire,” chief executive Neil Savery told reporters in July.
The World Fire Safety Foundation now wants Attorney-General Christian Porter to force CSIRO to release the documents.