Smoke alarms, sometimes mistakenly referred to as “smoke detectors”, are life-saving devices that detect smoke well before any sleeping person would. They provide critical seconds to carry out actions to save life and property. Smoke alarms are designed to detect fire smoke and produce a loud sound to alert people in the house to potential danger.
When asleep, people don’t smell smoke from fire and it can actually put them in a deeper sleep.1
Children may be seriously burnt or die if trapped in a house fire.
Children may be poisoned by inhaling harmful gases in smoke. Most buildings contain several materials which produce harmful gases when heated and/or burned. Some of these gases, like carbon monoxide, are colourless and odourless, and are fatal in small doses.
Children may suffocate from the smoke produced in a house fire. Smoke is capable of killing a person long before the flames approach.
In NSW, between 2004-2013, there were 35 deaths of children aged 0-17 years due to fire/burns.2
In NSW, 33%-50% of deaths from house fires could have been prevented if the homes had working smoke alarms and an escape plan.1
The law in NSW (The Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006), states that all residents must have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home. This includes owner occupied, rental properties, relocatable homes or any other residential building where people sleep. Smoke alarms must comply with the Australian Standard (AS3786), unless installed prior to 1 May 2006.
Smoke alarms are available as hard wired or battery powered. Hard wired alarms connect to the main power with a battery backup power supply. Interconnected hard wired smoke alarms, installed by a licensed electrician are recommended.
Smoke alarms should be installed in every area where bedrooms are located. However this depends on the type of building that they are being used in.
Landlords are responsible for the supply and installation of smoke alarms in rented properties and tenants are responsible for the replacement of batteries in battery powered smoke alarms only.
1 Fire and Rescue NSW http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/
2 NSW Child Death Review Team (2014) Annual Report 2013. Sydney: NSW Ombudsman. Accessed 24/02/2016 from: https://www.ombo.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/19628/CDRT-Annual-Report-2013.pdf