Consumer watchdog calling for ionisation smoke alarms to be pulled from shelves due to slow detection of smoke

Consumer New Zealand is calling for ionisation smoke alarms to be pulled from shop shelves following the outcome of its test.

The test was carried out with a smoke box on 20 different smoke alarms, the majority the photoelectric type and four of which were ionisation alarms, on fast flaming fires and slow-burning, smouldering fires.

While all alarms made a warning eventually, the ionisation alarms were a lot slower to sound the alarm during smouldering fires, which the watchdog's head of testing Paul Smith says is "dangerous."

"Smoudlering fires comes from things like upholstery foam, dodgy wiring in the walls, an extension cable that you’ve left plugged in and wrapped up, or a towel draped over the heater," he said.

He said smoke is the cause of many deaths in house fires and with many occurring overnight, any extra time would be useful.

"Every minute is valuable to be able to get everyone awake and to get out of the house," he said.

Mr Smith said Consumer New Zealand is communicating with retailers to explain why they should not be sold rather than looking for government intervention over their sale.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has recommended the photoelectric type with long battery life for a decade but says any working smoke alarm is better than none.

A previous information video for FENZ said over 80 per cent of fatal house fires involve a faulty smoke alarm or where the household doesn't have one.

Landlords replacing smoke alarms in properties must install photoelectric, long battery life smoke alarms, as stated in the Residential Tenancies Act.

Sale of ionisation alarms in NZ:

The Warehouse stopped sale of ionisation alarms last year.

Mitre 10 sells ionisation alarms, does not recommend customers solely use ionisation alarms.

Bunnings sells ionisation alarms.

PlaceMakers sells ionisation alarms, reviewing position following Consumer New Zealand findings.

Hammer Hardware – some stores sell ionisation alarms.

Foodstuffs (Pak N Save and New World) – Sells ionisation alarms, recommends photoelectric alarms.

Countdown – Stopped ordering ionisation alarms in February, a few may still be on the shelves.

A study found it can take minutes before an ionisation alarm detects smoke. Source: 1 NEWS


One person dead after crash on Auckland's Albany Expressway, major delays expected

One person has died following a crash on Auckland's Albany Expressway this morning.

Police were called to the incident at around 6am and the road is expected to be closed for some time.

Diversions are in place on Tawa Drive and Bush Road.

The Serious Crash Unit is currently investigating the incident.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS


Person dies after being hit by vehicle near Otaki

One person has died after being hit by a vehicle south of Otaki on the Kapiti Coast this morning. 

Police were called to the incident at around 5am.

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating and the road will be closed for some time.

Diversions are in place on Addington Road for southbound traffic and Te Waka Road for northbound traffic.

A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS


Former prisoners say they're having to lie to employers to secure a job

People who have been in prison say they are having to lie to employers to secure a job.

Just under a third of people who leave prison are back behind bars within their first year of release.

The Department of Corrections said gaining employment can reduce reoffending and it urged employers to give former prisoners a chance.

A woman, who wanted to be known only as Mihi, said she enjoyed her night-shift cleaning job in Auckland.

She said her colleagues were great and her boss was good too, which made it difficult for her to keep lying to him.

She did not want to use her real name because she did not want her boss to find out she had spent time in jail.

"I am quite an honest person and I would rather he knows - because he's really good," she said.

"Since I have been working there in June I have been wanting to tell him but I am scared that he might let me go.

"I need this job or a job."

Mihi served six months in Arohata prison for a string of convictions, including assault, breaching protection orders and benefit fraud.

She was released in January and said she has been turned down by countless employers when she has been honest about her past.

"I ended up mentioning that I just got released from prison - that that was the reason why I did not have any referees - he told me to get out," she said.

Another recruitment agency told her that no one would employ her, so she was wasting their time.

"It is stressful, it is hard, especially if you have been in prison - I did not realise how hard it was. No one wants to help you."

Mihi said employment was keeping her on the straight and narrow and she could turn to drugs and alcohol if she lost her job.

Patricia Walsh had racked up sentences amounting to 20 years imprisonment and had been to jail five times.

She has been out of prison since 2009 and said she lied to get her first job too.

But it put her on a path to get her Bachelor of Social Work and she speaks publicly about how to improve the system.

"Once I got off the P, I felt like maybe I could get a job," she said.

"But I lied - I said I didn't have a criminal conviction - but hey I got myself a cleaning job and I ended up cleaning the wānanga.

"I said to one of the students, 'How do I be one of you?"

Second chance

A reintegration worker who has completed her PhD on life after prison Joy Bullen said it should not be this way.

"For anyone that goes to prison they find that employment means they begin to be imprisoned all over again, they can't get employed because you are a risk," she said.

"So we don't say 'you've served your time, let's move on', we go 'no, you can't be employed because you are risk'."

The Department of Corrections has programmes in place to get prisoners work ready and to help them secure jobs on the outside.

In September, it managed to source jobs for 158 offenders who had been in prison or on community based-sentences.

It's director of employment and reintegration, Stephen Cunningham, said employers were getting on board but not enough of them.

On Tuesday, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis held two hui in Palmerston North where he discussed reintegrating offenders into society.

He urged employers there to take a chance and give jobs to former offenders.

You can hear more about life after prison on Insight, after the 8am news on Sunday with Wallace Chapmam on RNZ.

By Leigh-Marama McLachlan

Prisoner (file picture)

Alcohol warning label to be mandatory to urge risks of drinking while pregnant

All alcoholic drinks in New Zealand will soon have to come with a label warning of the risks of drinking while pregnant.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation has voted to make the health warnings mandatory.

Food Safety Minister Damien O'Connor, the only New Zealander in the group, said it was the right move.

While the alcohol industry had been voluntarily including warnings, there was no consistency in approach, he said.

Officials will now develop an appropriate standard to be signed off.

pregnant woman holding glass of alcohol
Pregnant woman holding glass of alcohol. Source: iStock