Are you compliant to the new smoke alarm legislation?
Fire is quite common in Australia, not only during the summer season but even during the winter. This has resulted in people losing their hard-earned investments, houses, and worst of all, the lives of people.
Due to this, the Australian standards on smoke alarms has been changed. The smoke alarm law is now requiring every home and “dwelling” places to replace their old smoke alarm systems with an interconnected photoelectric type.
Read the New Smoke Alarm Legislation for further information on this matter.
Along with these are some rules that also has to be followed by homeowners and tenants. This includes the following:
Smoke Alarm Law for Owner-occupier
All existing private home, townhouses, and units will be now required to install photoelectric smoke alarms in the following parts of the house:
- On every level of the house
- In each bedroom
- In the hallways that connect the bedrooms and the rest of the house
- If there is no bedroom in the level of the house, one smoke alarm must still be installed
Technically speaking, if your smoke alarms have been there for quite some time, most likely, these do not meet the new standards of smoke alarms. Therefore, you need to replace them with a photoelectric smoke alarm.
If this is not your case, you will still need to regularly check the smoke alarm devices at your home. Any smoke alarms that are not working properly must be immediately replaced.
In case the smoke alarms to be replaced are hardwired, then a new hard-wired photoelectric smoke alarm must be used.
Smoke alarm law for new builds or renovated houses
If you are planning to build or renovate your home, you are still required to install smoke alarms in compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC). You will be required with the following:
- Smoke alarms must be photoelectric
- Do not contain ionisation sensor
- Must be hard wired to the main power source with a secondary power source or be a 10 year battery smoke alarm
- Must be interconnected with the other smoke alarms in the house
The smoke alarms must be placed on the following locations in a house:
- On every level of the house
- In each bedroom
- In the connecting hallway of bedrooms and other parts of the house’s levels
- One smoke alarm near the travel path is still required even if there is no bedroom in a certain level of the house.
For existing houses, the smoke alarms should be hardwired with a secondary power source like a battery or be a 10 year battery smoke alarm. A well-practised escape plan must also be considered. This is to ensure that everyone can get out of the house safely in case a fire does happen.
Smoke alarm law for landlords
Starting from January 1, 2017, landlords are responsible for installing smoke alarms that comply with the new law. As long as there is no one renting the place, you are obliged to clean, test, and change the batteries of each smoke alarm installed in these places.
If the smoke alarm in your rental property has been there for more than 10 years, you also need to replace it with the recommended type of fire alarm.
Failure to comply with the new standard by January 1, 2022, can lead to your rental property being illegally rentable place. This means potentially losing your current tenants and your income from the property.
Smoke alarm law for tenants
Once you start renting a property, the obligation of changing the batteries, are yours however your landlord should take care of maintenance and cleaning, providing you with a smoke alarm certification within 14 days of you moving in and every 12 months thereafter. However, there are some instances wherein the real agents will hire a professional smoke alarm technician to do this maintenance for you. This is before the keys are handed over to you, as part of their compliance to the rules of the State.
Smoke alarm law for selling or leasing a house
For property owners who are leasing their house, you are responsible for the following:
- Replacing old smoke alarms with photoelectric smoke alarms that comply with the new Australian standard.
- Testing and replacing of inoperative smoke alarm devices
- Replacing hardwired smoke alarms with hardwired photoelectric smoke alarms.
- Laying out an escape plan and practising it
For further information, you may check the New Smoke Alarm Legislation here.
What is the difference between ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms?
The two most common types of smoke alarms that are used in Australia are the following:
Ionization smoke alarm
This type of alarm is the most commonly used because it is cheaper when compared to other types of smoke alarms. They are also prone to a lot of false alarms. These are being phased out and no longer should be installed.
Photoelectric smoke alarm
This type of smoke alarm is great in sensing a slow and smouldering fire. It will alert you at the earliest sign of a long smouldering smoke. Therefore, you will get to alerted by this alarm even before a fire blast in your home.
Photoelectric smoke alarms are thought to be more responsive compared to ionization smoke alarms. That is why the new smoke alarm legislation is requiring all dwelling owners to change their smoke alarms to photoelectric.