Photoelectric vs Ionization

What You Don't Know Can Kill You

A World Fire Safety Foundation Consumer Product Alert


In Aware Homes

In Most Homes

"I'm Earl Lee Warning, a photoelectric

 smoke alarm. There's two completely

 different types of smoke alarms - and

 both can be either battery or hard-wired."

Warns of early/smoldering stage of most fatal fires



Warns of late/flaming stage of most fatal fires



Low false alarm rate



- by all Australian & New Zealand fire fighters

- by over 80% of Canadian & U.S. fire fighters

- by increasing number of legislators (see below)



Environmentally Friendly

(contains no radioactive material)



Legislation: Photoelectric alarms mandated by law

Litigation: Installation minimizes fire death liability






1In Australian government (CSIRO) smoldering fire tests, ionization alarms do not activate until more than twice the maximum safe limit set for photoelectrics.

2If not disconnected due to unacceptably high false alarm rate - over 20% are disabled in the first 2 years. See Earl Lee Warning's FAQ, 'I like stats...' (item 3).

  Note: Ionization alarms usually activate far too late in most fatal fires - after the smoldering stage, when the fire eventually burst into flames.

3AFAC (Australia & New Zealand) & IAFF (Canada & U.S.) do not recommended ionization alarms, even when combined with photoelectric.

4All ionization smoke alarms contain radioactive material - photoelectric alarms do not.

5See the growing list of states and municipalities that have introduced photoelectric-specific legislation, and in some cases photoelectric-only legislation.

6See the WFSF's C.A.N. Report: 'Recommending Selling or Installing Ionization Smoke Alarms, A Criminal Act of Negligence?'

  Hear the radio interview with Beasley Allen law firm after CSIRO test data was deposed in ionization litigation involving the deaths of 3 young children.

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 Please tell everyone you know they

   need photoelectric alarms by

    sharing this message (see below).

   Thank you!"

Copyright (c) World Fire Safety Foundation (WFSF)  |  Check for latest version and download it or a PDF for distribution from the Foundation's website:

This graphic may only be reproduced in its entirety: WFSF_PhotoVsIon.jpg  |  Updated: 29 Nov 2016 |  The WFSF thanks the North Eastern Ohio Fire Prevention Association for Earl Lee Warning's assistance.

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" If your smoke alarms

have any of these symbols

they're ionization - replace them with photoelectric."

Adrian Butler, Chairman, Co-Founder, Former

Fire Fighter  |  World Fire Safety Foundation
Queensland, Australia  |  30 Nov 2016

Adrian Butler, Chairman, World Fire Safety Foundation

See 'Safer Smoke Alarms' story

What's 'Protecting' Your Family?



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Tennessee, USA  | 10 Dead

13 Sept 2016  |  MEMPHIS TRAGEDY

More > > >

The legislation and the

 16 year battle behind it

Queensland's Photoelectric-Only

Smoke Alarm Legislation

"The Best in the World."



Australian & New Zealand Fire Service

"Ionization Alarms Should be Banned

. . . Get rid of ionization alarms,

re-alarm with photoelectric alarms."

Greg Mullins, President AFAC  |  Commissioner Fire & Rescue NSW

Channel 9 Today Show, Sydney NSW, Australia  |  5 May 2016  |  2 min 36 secs

Commissioner Greg Mullins, Australia's most senior fire official, is the President of the Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities Council, the peak representative body for all Australian & New Zealand fire departments and the

Commissioner of Fire & Rescue New South Wales, one of the world's largest metropolitan fire departments.

See Commissioner Mullins testimony before the Australian Senate Smoke Alarm Inquiry below.


Testimony & Submissions

Second Hearing - Parliament House, Canberra, ACT  |  4 December 2015

"Ionization alarms should be banned . . . the standard is flawed."

Greg Mullins - President, AFAC  |  Commissioner, FRNSW

"The main message is that only photoelectric smoke alarms
should be allowed . . . My personal view is ionization alarms should
be banned . . . and the standard itself (AS3786-1993) is flawed."

Testimony > > >

Commissioner Mullins, President AFAC

"No manufacturer wants to admit there is any performance problem"

Testimony > > >

"The essence of the problem is that no manufacturer wants
  (or industry representative of a manufacturer wants) to admit,
  there is any performance problem with ionization smoke alarms."

David Isaac, Fire & Safety Technologies Pty Ltd  |  Australia's leading
fire safety expert  |  Standards Australia FP002 Committee Member

David Isaac - Fire & Safety Technologies Pty Ltd

David Isaac, Standards Australia Committee

"Brigades frightened and concerned at the industry politics"

Rebecca Le Tourneau - Producer, 60 Minutes Australia

"It soon became clear that they (Australian Fire Brigades) actually did want  to help but were frightened and concerned at the industry politics involved in this issue and the ramifications for them if they spoke
out - industry politics which are wasting time and risking more lives."

Rebecca Le Tourneau

Producer, 60 Minutes

Rebecca Le Tourneau, 60 Minutes Producer, 'The Alarming Truth'  |  August 2015

More > > >

Karl Westwell

Co-Founder, WFSF

The CSIRO: A Special Duty of Care

"The people and organizations that regulate, legislate, manufacture and promote fire safety products, have a special social contract with implicit responsibilities towards others and society and as such they are required to adhere to a standard of reasonable care because their acts could cause harm to others; and none
more so than the standards, regulatory and fire safety organizations."

'A Special Duty of Care'  |  Karl Westwell, Director of Research, Co-Founder
WFSF, Tauranga, New Zealand  |  August 2009

Adrian Butler

Former Fire Fighter

Chairman, Co-Founder

World Fire Safety Foundation

"Australia's Ralph Nader" LaBarron N. Boone, Principal,
Beasley Allen Law Firm, AL, U.S.A.

30 November 2016


Dear Reader,


Since December 2015, Australia's most senior fire official, Commissioner Greg Mullins has warned that ionization smoke alarms should be banned. Why? Because despite their sensitivity to cooking, they are unable to pass Australian Government (CSIRO) tests for visible smoke.


60 Minutes - 'The Alarming Truth'

Ionization alarms are installed in hundreds of millions of homes around the world. Watch the 60 Minutes exposé, The Alarming Truth below and see why the public should re-alarm with photoelectric alarms.


Help Save Lives

Please share this message and Like Us On Facebook.


Thank you.




Adrian Butler & Karl Westwell


The World Fire Safety Foundation

Karl Westwell

Director of Research


World Fire Safety Foundation

Founded March 2000

Self (privately) funded

Does not sell anything,
solicit or accept donations

Mission Statement
Stop The Children Burning

Why the Smoke Alarms in Your Home May Not Save You


" The type of smoke alarm you have..

 can make the difference between.. surviving.or dying in a fire.”

David Isaac, Australia's leading fire safety expert, warning about ionization smoke alarms

David Isaac, Australia's Leading Fire Safety Expert
Standards Australia FP002 Committee Member

30 Second Trailer


18 minutes  |  Click 'Play' for parts 1 & 2 on 60 Minutes website, or . . .

. . . Download Video
MP4  |  249 MB

(after short delay, right click on

video in new tab to download)

MP4  file extracted from

Senate Inquiry website.

More > > >

Karl Stefanovic

David Isaac


"I spoke with fire fighters and alarm experts

around the world and discovered a terrible
level of frustration amongst good people,

trying to implement basic, sensible
precautions to save lives."

60 Minutes Senate Inquiry Submission

Rebecca Le Tourneau

Producer, 60 Minutes

Rebecca Le Tourneau, 60 Minutes Producer

'The Alarming Truth'  |  28 August 2015

More  > > >

More > > >

Queensland's Photoelectric-Only Legislation
"The Best in the World."

31 August 2016

Queensland's photoelectric-only legislation will provide Queensland residents

with the best smoke alarm legislation of any jurisdiction, anywhere in the world.

More > > >

Report Challenges Forty Year Old Industry Slogan  |  26 August 2016

Find out why the World Fire Safety Foundation believes the
'Working Smoke Alarms Saves Lives' slogan is putting lives at risk.

WFSF Report Challenges 'Working
Smoke Alarms Save Lives' Slogan

More > > >

In Move to Save Lives, NYC's Smoke Detector Law Could Change  |  6 July 2016

A veto-proof majority of New York City Councilmembers have backed legislation
to mandate the installation of photoelectric smoke alarms in New York City.

New York City Legislation "Veto-Proof"

More > > >

New Zealand Residential Smoke Alarm Legislation  |  1 July 2016

Photoelectric alarms are made mandatory in

rented accommodation throughout New Zealand.

New Zealand Mandates Photoelectric Alarms

More > > >

Major Global Corporation Gets Behind Photoelectric Alarms  |  24 June 2016

Global corporation Schneider Electric ($US28B - 2015), discontinues
ionization alarms in favor of photoelectrics for "the best protection possible."

Schneider Discontinues Ionization Alarms

More > > >

WFSF Radio Interview, Michigan, U.S.A.  |  27 February 2016

U.S. radio interview explains why a growing number of experts around
the world are warning that ionization smoke alarms should be banned.

Why Ionization Alarms Should Be Banned

More > > >

CSIRO Misleads Senate

Smoke Alarm Inquiry

4 December 2015

Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) misleads
Australian Senate Smoke Alarm Inquiry about testing of ionization smoke alarms.

More > > >

American Red Cross Campaign

Putting Lives at Needless Risk

1 December 2015

Despite repeated warnings by U.S. fire departments and campaigners

the American Red Cross continues to distribute ionization smoke alarms

You Can Help Save Lives

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Albert Einstein

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not

  because of the people who are evil, but

 because of the people who do

 nothing about it."

"All that is required for evil

to triumph is for good

men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke