Smoke alarms, sometimes called “smoke detectors”, are devices that detect smoke and make a loud sound to alert people in the house to the potential danger. This is particularly important when people are sleeping as early detection of smoke gives critical seconds to escape the home.
While sleeping, people generally don’t smell smoke from a fire until it’s too late. A house fire can take hold in minutes and the smoke can cause unconsciousness in a short space of time.1
Between 2004 and 2013, 35 children aged 0-17 years died in NSW due to fire/burns.2
According to Fire & Rescue NSW, 56% of fatal house fires in NSW between 2002 and 2014 were in homes where there was no working smoke alarm. These house fire deaths could have been prevented if the homes had working smoke alarms and an escape plan.1
In NSW, The Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006, require that all buildings where people sleep must have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level. This includes owner occupied and rental properties, re-locatable homes (caravans and campervans) or any other residential building where people sleep. Smoke alarms must comply with the Australian Standard AS3786 – Smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light or ionization.
Smoke alarms can be either hard wired or battery powered.
Hard wired alarms are connected to the mains power and have a battery backup power supply. Interconnected hard wired smoke alarms make sure that if one alarm detects smoke, all the alarms will activate to alert people to the danger. Hard wired and interconnected alarms are
the recommended choice, and must be installed by a licensed electrician.
If you choose to use a battery powered smoke alarm, buy one powered by a ten year lithium battery.
As a simple guide, smoke alarms should be installed in hallways outside bedrooms. Check the Fire & Rescue NSW website for more detailed information on where smoke alarms should be located in different types of building.
Landlords are responsible for the supply and installation of smoke alarms in rental properties however tenants are responsible for the replacement of batteries in battery powered smoke alarms.
Smoke alarms should be checked and tested regularly and replaced every ten years.
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