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A little (but important) smoke alarm legislation update

A little (but important) smoke alarm legislation update

Published: April 24, 2019 Last Updated: November 06, 2020

As some of you may (or may not) know, new legislation commenced from 1 January 2017 in relation to smoke alarms and their installation over the next 10 years. The legislation, known as the Fire and Emergency Services (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Amendment Act 2016 (Qld), has initiated a 10-year ‘phased rollout’ of components in three fixed terms. These periods, commencing on 1 January 2017, 1 January 2022 and 1 January 2027, all have their own legislative requirements. But, what does it all really mean currently for a homeowner, a tenant, a landlord, a renovator or someone selling their home?

What is an interconnected photoelectric smoke alarm?

The type of smoke alarm referred to in the legislation that homes now need is called an interconnected photoelectric smoke alarm. An interconnected photoelectric smoke alarm sees the smoke and will immediately alert you, as it can recognise visible bits of combustion, and, being interconnected, means you will be alerted irrelevant of your positioning in your home.

From 1 January 2017, if a smoke alarm is being replaced, it must be a photoelectric alarm that complies with Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014.

What about my current smoke alarms?

The smoke alarms that are currently in your home may still be compliant, it depends on their age and performance. If your existing smoke alarms still work well and were produced less than 10 years ago, they are suitable to continue using for the time being. It may be hard for you to figure out the age of your smoke alarm and, if this is the case, it is highly recommended that you contact your local electrician who can assist.

What is required when I upgrade my smoke alarms?

When you arrange for your smoke alarms to be upgraded, the following must be met :

  • Must be photoelectric (and comply with Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014)
  • Must be younger than 10 years old and operational when tested
  • Must be interconnected with all other legislative-required smoke alarms in the building
  • Must not contain an ionisation sensor

So, in light of all the above information, what does this mean for you? It all depends on your situation, however there are a few varying requirements depending on your housing circumstances. There is still a common feature though - you must have working smoke alarms for safety!

So, what does the legislation currently mean for...

A landlord?

From 1 January 2017

All landlords are responsible for the installation compliant smoke alarms from 1 January 2017. If the alarms on the property were manufactured more than 10 years ago, or do not work when tested, they must be replaced immediately with photoelectric smoke alarms. If the smoke alarms that are present are already hardwired, they must be replaced with hardwired photoelectric smoke alarms. It is also strongly suggested that :

  • All your smoke alarms be connected
  • All alarms are hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10 year battery
  • All ionisation smoke alarms be replaced ASAP with photoelectric versions
  • Alarms be positioned as followed :
    • In each bedroom AND on each storey
    • In the hallways that connect the rest of the home to the bedrooms
    • If there isn’t a hallway, then between the bedroom and other sections of the storey
    • If there isn’t a bedroom located on one or more of the storeys, at least one alarm must be placed in the area most likely used to leave the house

When it comes to new tenancies in domestic homes, a landlord must clean and test all smoke alarms within 30 days before the tenancy commences. Cleaning and testing smoke alarms can be done yourself and do not require an electrician, and can be completed by pushing the ‘test’ button on the alarm and cleaning according to the manufacturer's guidelines.

From 1 January 2022

Any unit or house that is being leased, or an existing lease being renewed, will require hardwired interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms however, if a hardwired version can not be installed, a non-removable 10 year battery smoke alarm can be installed as an alternative.

A tenant?

Your landlord is responsible for the installation of compliant smoke alarms however, during a tenancy, a tenant is responsible for cleaning and testing smoke alarms once a year.

A renovator?

From 1 January 2017, if you are substantially renovating your home or unit and the renovations are subject to building approval, you must have hardwired, interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms. They must be hardwired to the main power supply and have a backup secondary power source, such as a battery, or they can have a 10 year battery that is unable to be removed. All alarms must be connected to all other required smoke alarms in the property, they must not contain an ionisation sensor and are to be located :

  • In each bedroom AND on each storey
  • In the hallways that connect the rest of the home to the bedrooms
  • If there isn’t a hallway, then between the bedroom and other sections of the storey
  • If there isn’t a bedroom located on one or more of the storeys, at least one alarm must be placed in the area most likely used to leave the house

Home sellers?

From 1 January 2017

If the alarms on the property being sold were manufactured more than 10 years ago, or do not work when tested, they must be replaced immediately with photoelectric smoke alarms. If you have smoke alarms that are already hardwired, they must be replaced with hardwired photoelectric smoke alarms when necessary. It is also strongly suggested that:

  • All your smoke alarms be connected
  • All alarms are hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10 year battery
  • All ionisation smoke alarms be replaced ASAP with photoelectric versions
  • Alarms be positioned as followed :
    • In each bedroom AND on each storey
    • In the hallways that connect the rest of the home to the bedrooms
    • If there isn’t a hallway, then between the bedroom and other sections of the storey
    • If there isn’t a bedroom located on one or more of the storeys, at least one alarm must be placed in the area most likely used to leave the house

When you go through the home sale process, you must still complete a Form 24 and advise that compliant smoke alarms are in place in your home.

From 1 January 2022

Any unit or house that is being sold will require hardwired interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms however, if a hardwired version can not be installed, a non-removable 10 year battery smoke alarm can be installed as an alternative. If your property was built before 1 January 2017, the alarms in place can be powered by a non-removable 10 year battery, hardwired or a mixture of both. All alarms must be connected to all other required smoke alarms in the property, they must not contain an ionisation sensor and are to be located:

  • In each bedroom AND on each storey
  • In the hallways that connect the rest of the home to the bedrooms
  • If there isn’t a hallway, then between the bedroom and other sections of the storey
  • If there isn’t a bedroom located on one or more of the storeys, at least one alarm must be placed in the area most likely used to leave the house

If there is a hardwired alarm in the property that connects to the domestic power supply and it requires replacing, it must be replaced with a hardwired photoelectric smoke alarm.

A homeowner?

From 1 January 2017

If the alarms in your home were manufactured more than 10 years ago, or do not work when tested, they must be replaced immediately with photoelectric smoke alarms. If you have smoke alarms that are already hardwired, they must be replaced with hardwired photoelectric smoke alarms if/when necessary. It is also strongly suggested that:

  • All your smoke alarms be connected
  • All alarms are hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10 year battery
  • All ionisation smoke alarms be replaced ASAP with photoelectric versions
  • Alarms be positioned as followed :
    • In each bedroom AND on each storey
    • In the hallways that connect the rest of the home to the bedrooms
    • If there isn’t a hallway, then between the bedroom and other sections of the storey
    • If there isn’t a bedroom located on one or more of the storeys, at least one alarm must be placed in the area most likely used to leave the house

If you are building a home the same rules apply as to a renovator, however your alarms must be hardwired and can solely have a 10 year battery only if a hardwired version is not a possible option.

From 1 January 2027

From 1 January 2027, all private homes, units and townhouses will require hardwired interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms however, if a hardwired version can not be installed, a non-removable 10 year battery smoke alarm can be installed as an alternative. The alarms are to be located:

  • In each bedroom AND on each storey
  • In the hallways that connect the rest of the home to the bedrooms
  • If there isn’t a hallway, then between the bedroom and other sections of the storey
  • If there isn’t a bedroom located on one or more of the storeys, at least one alarm must be placed in the area most likely used to leave the house

The condensed version

In a super concentrated form, in order for your home to be legislatively compliant the following will apply :

  • From 1 January 2017, any dwelling that is new or has been substantially renovated must have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms (this applies even if your building application was submitted before 1 January)
  • From 2 January 2022, any domestic dwelling that is leased and/or sold must have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms
  • From 1 January 2027, all domestic dwellings must have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms

It may seem like 2022 and 2027 are too far away to consider acting now, however the closer the cut-off dates get, the more people will be rushing to ensure they meet all their requirements in time. Don’t leave it to the last minute to have your interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms installed, otherwise you may miss the dates provided for in the legislation. Get in contact with a professional today to help you navigate the best way forward for your home when it comes to getting new smoke alarms installed.

If you have any questions regarding smoke alarms, their associated legislation or installation, call Hanson Electrical on 0456 478 029 or complete a contact form . We can assist with all things to do with smoke alarms, and pride ourselves on our friendly service and professional team. Give us a call today!

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