Where there’s smoke there’s fire
It appears that the CSIRO’s infamous reputation has spread as far as New York. In landmark legislation before New York City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings which seeks to mandate installation of photoelectric smoke alarms in all residential buildings, the CSIRO was criticised over its continual refusal to allow the filming of smoke detector tests for ionization-type smoke detectors. The CSIRO tests smoke alarms sold in Australia in accordance with Australia’s Smoke Alarm Standard AS3786-1993.
Being a national compliance tester for a device upon which potentially millions of Australians lives depend, it is reprehensible that the CSIRO would refuse to permit independent evaluation by consumer and advocacy groups concerned about the effectiveness and fitness for purpose of such safety devices.
The CSIRO has, of course, fallen back upon its age old line of defence in suggesting that commercial confidence of its customers would be breached in permitting such testing, according to CSIRO spokesperson, Mr Huw Morgan.
Our understanding is that interest groups are not attempting to independently verify particular brands of smoke detector, but moreover the particular ionization technology used in many different brands of smoke detector sold throughout Australia. It would be a simple matter for those who are conducting the tests to conceal the brand and model of the device being tested, thus invalidating the claims of the CSIRO in relation to its claim of the Commercial-in-Confidence of such testing.
It has been suggested that the real reason why the CSIRO will not permit independent filming and verification of compliance of such devices is because empirical scientific test data held by the CSIRO shows ionisation smoke alarms do not provide sufficient time to escape in the early, smouldering stage of a fire. Most deaths in house fires result from the inhalation of toxic combustion gases well before the heat of the fire ever reaches the victim. The official positions of most Australian fire safety and consumer organisations acknowledge the problem with ionisation smoke alarms. The official position of all Australian Fire Brigades since June, 2006 warns, “Ionisation smoke alarms may not operate in time to alert occupants early enough to escape from smouldering fires.” (www.thewfsf.org/positions)
In the United States the International Association of Fire Fighters (300,000+ members) states that changing from ionisation to photoelectric smoke alarms will drastically reduce loss of life among citizens and fire fighters. The CSIRO has known of the life-threatening limitations of ionisation smoke alarms for years. In a recent parliamentary speech, Chris Gulaptis MP said he’d sent an open letter to the CSIRO seeking permission for the media to be allowed to film its testing of ionisation alarms. The CSIRO has refused.
This begs the serious question of whether the CSIRO should be putting the interests of its Commercial partners ahead of its duties to serve the Australian Public.
What does this have to do with bullying you may well ask…
If the CSIRO’s Senior Management are prepared to put at risk the lives of Australian’s for profit then it stands to reason that it has a similar lack of respect for the health and wellbeing of its employees as has been quaintly captured in the recent Stage 1 report into Workplace Bullying in which the investigation team described the CSIRO as lacking in empathy for its employees.
We feel it goes far beyond a disregard for the wellbeing of others and into the realm of the pathological hunger to succeed commercially in spite of the human cost. Is this what we really want from our premier Science Agency which was established for the betterment of our nation and not the selfish interests of the few?
More information on the CSIRO’s role in preventing transparent testing of smoke alarms in Australia can be found at: www.SmokeAlarmWarning.org/ny.html