What are the changes to the Smoke Alarm laws?
The Queensland Government recently introduced changes to Smoke Alarm laws, aimed at making “Queensland households the safest in Australia in relation to fire safety.”
The new law (the Fire and Emergency Services (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Amendment Act) requires that all dwellings will be required to have ‘interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms” in all bedrooms, in hallways that connect bedrooms with the rest of the dwelling and on every level.
What is an “interconnected photoelectric smoke alarm?”
To be compliant, a smoke alarm must be:
- interconnected – this means that the alarms are linked to each other so that if any of the alarms are triggered, then they all trigger simultaneously.
- hardwired to a continuous power source, or be powered by a non-removable 10 year lithium battery
- photoelectric – these types of smoke alarms are best for smouldering fires, which are the most common fire in dwellings, and respond more quickly to burning household items such as foams, rubbers, plastics and synthetic materials. They are also, fortunately, not as prone to nuisance cooking alarms!
When does the new law come into effect?
There is a 10 year phased rollout of the new law. Interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms are required:
- From 1 January 2017: in all new dwellings and substantially renovated dwellings (this applies to building applications submitted from 1 January 2017).
- From 1 January 2022: in all domestic dwellings leased and sold.
- From 1 January 2027: in all other domestic dwellings.
The new law also requires that from 1 January 2017 any newly installed or replacement smoke alarms must be photoelectric. Fines will apply for non-compliance.
New versions of the standard REIQ Contracts were recently released updating the reference to the Smoke Alarm law.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have created this helpful guide on the changes which may be useful to you.
For dwellings being sold, leased or an existing lease renewed
From 1 January 2017
- Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago must be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms which comply with Australian Standards (AS) 3786-2014. (Note: the date should be stamped on the back)
- Smoke alarms that do not operate when tested must be replaced immediately.
- Existing hardwired smoke alarms that need replacement, must be replaced with a hardwired photoelectric smoke alarm.
- It is also recommended that:
- smoke alarms be either hardwired or
- powered by a non-removable 10-year battery; and
- ionisation smoke alarms be replaced with photoelectric type as soon as possible.
- For the best protection smoke alarms should be installed on each storey:
- in every bedroom
- in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
- if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
- if there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm should be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.
- All smoke alarms should be interconnected.
- To get everyone out safely during a house fire, it is essential to also have a well-practised fire escape plan.
- Existing landlord’s and tenant’s obligations continue. Property sellers must continue to lodge a Form 24 stating the requirements of the legislation have been met. See New Smoke Alarm Legislation for more details.
From 1 January 2022
- All homes or units being sold or leased, or existing leases renewed, will require the installation of hardwired photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms. If a hardwired smoke alarm cannot be installed, non-removable 10-year battery smoke alarms can be installed in place.
- Smoke alarms in the dwelling must:
- be photoelectric (AS3786-2014); and
- not also contain an ionisation sensor; and
- Be hardwired to the mains power supply with a backup power source (i.e. battery), although dwellings which were existing prior to 1 Jan 2017 can be hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10-year battery, or a combination of both.
- be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together.
- The legislation requires smoke alarms must be installed in the following locations:
- on each storey
- in each bedroom
- in hallways that connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
- if there is no hallway, between the bedroom and other parts of the storey; and
- if there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.
- If a smoke alarm which is hardwired to the domestic power supply needs replacement, it must be replaced with a hardwired photoelectric smoke alarm.
About photoelectric alarms
Photoelectric alarms, also known as optical or photo-optical, detect visible particles of combustion and respond to a wide range of fires.