Do I need smoke alarms?
Absolutely! Smoke alarms are compulsory safety devices in every residential building. There must be at least one working smoke alarm on or near the ceiling of each story of the home between the sleeping areas and the rest of the home.
Homes constructed before 1 August 1997 must have at least one battery powered smoke alarm per floor of the home while homes constructed after this date must have smoke alarms connected to 240V mains power.
Where should smoke alarms should be installed?
It is important to always follow manufacturers installation instructions, there are also general recommendations for the installation of smoke alarms. Generally, they should be installed on or near the ceiling.
On the ceiling means on the center of the ceiling (or at least 300mm from any wall or cornice).
Near the ceiling means 300mm-500mm off the ceiling.
On a cathedral or sloping ceiling the smoke alarm should be 500mm-1500mm of the highest point of the roof.
Maintaining a Smoke Alarm
It is important to familiarize yourself with your operation manual for specific maintenance guidelines.
Check your smoke alarm is working each month by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds, you can also use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust particles that may affect the performance of the smoke alarm.
A general rule of thumb is to replace smoke alarm batteries when we change our clocks for daylight savings. The CFA now recommends lithium battery operated smoke alarms which have a life of 10 years – removing the need to replace batteries every 6 months. They are becoming increasingly common and provide peace of mind that there is enough charge in battery operated detectors and battery backed up hard wired detectors for the life of the detector.
Smoke alarms must also be replaced in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations which is generally 10 years.
Requirements for rental properties
On March 29, 2021, there were changes to obligations of rental providers under Residential Tenancies Act with regards to Smoke Alarms.
- Annual smoke alarm safety checks are now mandatory, not just recommended.
- Smoke alarms that are faulty are now an urgent repair.
- Renters are now to be provided operation manuals for all installed alarms.
Venatic offer smoke alarm inspections to ensure rental providers comply with these new obligations. These inspections include a detailed report including photo and video evidence of testing, operation manuals of all installed smoke alarms, free replacement of expired and faulty units and free ‘urgent repair’ call outs for 12 months from inspection.
As part of any pre-purchase or pre-sale Venatic inspection, your inspector will perform a smoke alarm safety check and attach an operation manual to your report wherever possible.
What do the CFA Recommend?
While it is mandatory to have one smoke alarm per floor of the home between sleeping areas and the rest of the home, the CFA recommends that in addition to this smoke alarms should be installed in all living areas in bedrooms.
Legislation requires that all new homes built after May 2014 with multiple smoke alarms, all of the alarms must be interconnected so if one alarm activates, they all do. Beyond this requirement for new homes, the CFA recommends that all smoke alarms should be interconnected.
What to do when your smoke alarm sounds in the event of a fire?
Knowing how to react if a fire occurs in the home can be a matter of life and death. The CFA have put together 6 rules to practice with your family to escape a fire in your home.
- Get down low and stay out of smoke
- If it’s safe, close doors on your way out to slow down the spread of fire and smoke.
- Alert other people on your way out of the building
- Get out and stay out
- Meet at a safe place such as the letterbox outside of your home
- Call 000 from a mobile or neighbor’s phone. Ask for FIRE
You can find more information on smoke alarms on the CFA website here.