A busy holiday period has sparked a safety message from the Rotorua Fire Brigade about the importance of working smoke alarms.

Between December 22 and January 4 the Rotorua Fire Brigade attended 68 call outs, ranging from flooding to car crashes.

Station officer Geoff Carter said it was a busy time.

"The storm that came through towards the end of the period really bumped it up," Carter said.

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One of the callouts, to a fire in Kaingaroa, was a stark reminder of the importance of working smoke alarms.

Carter said the residents of the home had fallen asleep in the living room of the property, leaving a pot still going on the stove.

"The smoke alarm woke them, in time for them to get out of the property and to call us before the fire could destroy the entire home.

"There was severe damage to the kitchen and hallway."

The incident followed multiple others in recent months, where people had taken smoke alarms down, hadn't been checked or where the batteries had been removed, he said.

"In Kaingaroa having a smoke alarm worked, it alerted them and it gave them time to get out."

Fire safety investigator Stuart Bootten said the fire brigade was in support of photoelectric smoke detectors, which combat the large number of people who tear their kitchen alarm down because it goes off when cooking.

Photoelectric smoke alarms detect smoke when it affects the light levels in a sensor chamber, which means it is unaffected by anything other than the dark smoke which occurs in a major house fire.

But Bootten said no matter which type people wanted to use, there was no excuse for people not to have working smoke alarms.

"If your smoke alarm isn't there to wake you up, you don't wake up."

While you are asleep you lose your sense of smell and by the time a fire is making enough noise to wake a person up it is fully engulfed, he said.

"Smoke alarms save life, and property."