In a study carried out by the French consumer watchdog the Institut National de la Consommation, six of out of eight popular smoke alarms on the French market did not work properly in tests they carried out on them.
In the light of the report the French government has ordered trading standards officials to carry out their own tests.
Similar tests also carried out by the consumer body Que Choisir in 2006 found that only three of the twelve smoke alarms they tested could be recommended for use, with some then later withdrawn from the market.
All of this comes at a time when a new draft law is currently making its way through the French Parliament that proposes to make obligatory the installation of smoke detectors in all homes in France over a five year period.
Around 800 people die each year from domestic fires in France and it is estimated that only 1% to 3% of homes in France are currently equipped with a smoke alarm.
The difficulty with any new law is going to be the practicalities of ensuring compliance, unless the government were to employ an army of smoke alarm 'inspectors', which seems unlikely! It could well be that pressure will be exerted through French house insurance companies to make it a condition of insurance policies.
However, even then there remains the difficulty of ensuring the the alarms are installed and maintained properly.