New Smoke Alarm Laws from 1 January 2017
After the recent tragedy in Slacks Creek, the Queensland State Coroner presented evidence that the type, positioning and interconnectedness of smoke alarms are crucial to ensuring how effective a smoke alarm is in alerting people to the presence of a fire. He recommended two major changes that form the basis of this new legislation.
These recommendations were put to government with support of Master Electricians Australia, with new laws coming into effect from January 1 2017. They apply to new domestic dwellings, rental properties, and properties that are undergoing substantial renovations.
The new laws aim to protect the lives of every resident, by creating safer homes and one unified smoke alarm system. This means that you will be more rapidly alerted to the presence of a fire in your home. The new laws impact all newly built homes and rentals, plus any home undertaking substantial renovations.
From 1 January 2017 smoke alarms installed in new homes must be:
- Photoelectric type only;
- Hard wired to the electricity supply;
- Interconnected to every other smoke alarm;
- Installed in each bedroom;
- Installed in hallways serving bedrooms; and
- Installed in the exit path of every storey not containing bedrooms.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has put together a fact sheet on the changes - you can download a copy here.
What type of smoke alarms does your house have?
There are two types of smoke alarms; photoelectric and ionisation.
Ionisation smoke alarms ‘feel’ smoke by detecting invisible particles of combustion, like when you burn your toast in the kitchen, and activate quickly for fast-flaming fires. Evidence suggests they are not as effective at detecting slow-smouldering fires, which are generally the fires that lead to deaths in homes.
Photoelectric smoke alarms ‘see’ smoke by detecting visible particles of combustion and react more quickly to smouldering fires. They are more reliable and less likely to produce false alarm activations. When photoelectric alarms activate, the smoke is still at the top layer of the ceiling, above head height and this gives residents more time to evacuate safely. This additional warning time is critical in allowing the safe escape of all persons.