All About the New Smoke Alarm Legislation
Australia is well familiar with fire events, especially during the summer season. It had cost people’s houses, hard-earned assets, and worst, the lives of their loved ones.
Given this, the Australian Standard has amended its smoke alarm legislation. It is NOW A MUST FOR ALL PROPERTIES to switch to an interconnected photoelectric smoke alarm system.
Read more about the new smoke alarm legislation and see if your property is compliant to its changes.
What does the new smoke alarm legislation say?
Below are the new rules in this legislation that homeowners, landlords, and tenants need to follow. Read on.
Smoke alarm legislation for new build and renovated houses
Whether it’s a new build house or a house for renovation, it is still required to install smoke alarms based on the National Construction Code (NCC). The smoke alarm system to be installed must follow the requirements below:
In all dwellings must:
i) be photoelectric (AS 3786-2014); and
ii) not also contain an ionisation sensor; and
iii) be less than 10 years old; and
iv) operate when tested; and
v) be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all
Smoke alarms must be installed on each storey:
i) in each bedroom; and
ii) in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; or
iii) if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
iv) 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.
Smoke alarms must be either hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10 year battery, or a combination of both may be allowed.
Smoke alarms in existing houses must be hardwired and with a secondary power source such as a smoke alarm battery. The house’s occupants must also have and practice an escape plan. This way, in case a fire occurs, everyone knows where the safe way to go out of the house is.
Smoke alarm legislation for owner-occupied homes
Under this new smoke alarm legislation, all existing dwelling places such as private homes and townhouses are required to install photoelectric smoke alarms in their place. The devices must be placed in the following locations:
- At every level of the house
- Near each bedroom
- In the bedrooms’ connecting hallways
- One smoke alarm device must still be installed in the level of the house even if it has no bedroom
If your smoke alarms have been installed before this new smoke alarm legislation is released, then probably, your smoke alarms don’t meet the new standards. Therefore, to ensure your place follows the new legislation, you must switch to a photoelectric type of smoke alarm.
In case your smoke alarm system is already updated and in accordance with the new legislation, regular checking and testing of your system is still a must. Any defective smoke alarm must be replaced immediately.
If a smoke alarm to be replaced is hard-wired, you must use a new hard-wired photoelectric smoke alarm.
Smoke alarm legislation for houses for lease and for sale
If you’re a property owner who is leasing your house, below are your responsibilities.
- Replacement of old smoke alarms with photoelectric smoke alarms that meets the new Australian smoke alarm standard.
- Creating an escape plan and practise it
- Testing and replacement of defective smoke alarms
- Replacement of hard-wired common smoke alarm with a hard-wired photoelectric type of smoke alar
To learn more about this, read the New Smoke Alarm Legislation.
Smoke alarm legislation for landlords
According to this new smoke alarm legislation, from January 1, 2017, landlords are responsible for installing smoke alarms that meet the new standard. It’s also your responsibility to clean, check, test, and replace the batteries of each smoke alarms installed in your property, so long as there’s no renter in it.
If the smoke alarm system in your property is already more than 10 years, you must upgrade and replace it with the new recommended type of system.
Failure to follow the new legislation by January 1, 2022, may tag your rental property as an unfit rental place. To avoid losing your current tenant and income, make sure to comply with the new smoke alarm legislation.
Smoke alarm legislation for tenants
For tenants that are renting a place, you’re responsible for the changing of batteries of the smoke alarms. While the cleaning and maintenance of the devices are still under the landlord’s care. Your landlord must also be able to provide you with the smoke alarm certification of the place, 14 days after your move-in.
There’ll be instances where the landlord will hire a licensed smoke alarm contractor to handle the maintenance. This will be before your move-in to the property as their compliance with the new legislation.
Ionization Smoke Alarm vs. Photoelectric Smoke Alarm
Below are the 2 types of smoke alarms that are commonly used in Australia.
Photoelectric smoke alarm
Photoelectric smoke alarms are best for detecting slow, smouldering fire. It’ll immediately alert the building occupants once it senses a smouldering smoke. This way, all the occupants will be able to go to safety even before a fire blow up.
This type of smoke alarm is tested to be more responsive compared to the typical ionisation smoke alarm. That’s why property owners are required by the new smoke alarm legislation to switch to this type of smoke alarm.
Ionization smoke alarm
Ionization smoke alarms are typically used by property owners because it’s cheaper. However, this type of alarms is prone to giving false alarms and are being phased out. Therefore, this is not recommended to be used anymore.
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