We reported on the dangers of ionization smoke detectors in the August 2014 issue of the Report. Testing reveals that ionization smoke detectors do not adequately detect slow growth or smoldering fires. What makes these detectors so dangerous is that they sound at the slightest bit of certain types of smoke, like the smoke produced from cooking toast. Folks who have these types of detectors assume that if their detector sounds in this type of smoke, that it would certainly go off in a fire. That is a terrible misconception.
As previously reported, three of the world’s leading fire safety advocates recently visited our firm in Montgomery, Ala., and participated in an open forum on LaBarron Boone’s radio talk show, The Law and You. During this discussion, Adrian Butler, an Australian consumer advocate who once sold smoke detectors, discussed the number of people who have died in Alabama this year due to house fires. This number was misreported in our August issue.
The original article reported that 62 people had died in Alabama due to defective ionization alarms. While it is true that 62 people have died in Alabama from house fires this year, not all of those deaths have been directly linked to defective ionization alarms at this time. However, Ed Paulk, the Alabama Fire Marshal who provided this statistic to Mr. Butler, says that scientific data held by the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) proves the ionization smoke alarms in most U.S. and Australian homes are defective.
In any event, smoke detector manufacturers are well aware of the ionization alarm’s defects. They have known for more than 30 years that ionization alarms do not provide adequate protection in a slow, smoldering fire. Even worse, manufacturers know that there is an alternative technology that will detect a slow, smoldering fire, but they refuse to take the defective alarms off the market. Fortunately, fire safety advocates, like Adrian Butler, have dedicated their lives to removing these detectors from the market. Lawyers at Beasley Allen, led by Greg Allen and LaBarron Boone, have helped to lead that fight and they will not stop until standalone ionization alarms are no longer offered to the American public. Hopefully, that will become a reality in the not-too-distant future.
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