It is easy to forget that working smoke alarms are installed in your home until it starts chirping or beeping. Some may even consider it a nuisance or distraction in their interior. But while we take smoke alarms for granted, we are rest assured that these home gadgets are always looking out for you and your family.
A smoke alarm is critical for the early detection of fire in your home. Having one installed could mean the difference between life and death. Fire occurs in a variety of unexpected ways and the most unlikely locations; but regardless of where or how, having a new smoke alarm installed is the first step towards your safety.
However, it is not enough to simply have smoke alarms installed in one’s home. Some smoke alarm legislation needs to be followed, and whether you are an owner, a landlord, or a tenant, this post will be helpful in knowing how to safeguard your homes with this piece of technology.
Like most things, smoke alarms also need the same care and attention. Here is a quick rundown of the basics of smoke alarm testing from your trusted Sunshine coast electrician at Walt Electrical.
What is the Smoke Alarm Legislation under Australian Standard?
Here is how the new Fire Code legislation under the Building Code of Australia affects dwelling that is sold, leased, or with renewed existing list:
From January 1, 2017:
- For smoke alarm replacement, they must be a photoelectric type that conforms with Australian Standard 3786-2014.
- Existing smoke alarms that were made or manufactured more than ten years ago must be immediately replaced. (Note: smoke alarms should have a stamped date of manufacturing)
- Smoke alarms that failed testing must be replaced immediately.
- Existing hardwired smoke alarms that need replacing must be replaced with a hard wired and photoelectric smoke alarm.
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Starting January 1, 2022:
Smoke alarms in dwelling must:
- be photoelectric type (Australian Standard 3786-2014); and
- not contain an ionization sensor; and
- age less than ten years old; and
- operate properly when tested; and
- be interconnected with every installed smoke alarm in the dwelling so all are in sync; and
- be powered by 10-year non-replaceable batteries, or hard wired.
Smoke alarms must be installed on each floor:
- in each bedroom; and
- in hallways that connect bedrooms and all the other rooms in the dwelling;
- if there are no hallways between the bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; and
- If there are no bedrooms, one smoke alarm at least must be installed in the most probable path of travel towards the exit of the dwelling.
In addition to the guidelines mentioned above, owner/landlord is responsible for:
- clean and test smoke alarms and replace any flat batteries within 30 days before the start of tenancy or lease.
- not remove a smoke alarm’s battery, unless for replacement purposes only.
- do anything that would reduce the effectiveness of the smoke alarm, e.g., cover it with plastic, paint it.
Moreover, tenants must do the following steps below with their smoke alarm:
- replace flat or nearly flat batteries.
- advise the owner/landlord if there is any issue with the smoke alarms.
- allow the owner/landlord right of entry to install and test smoke alarms.
- do anything that would reduce the effectiveness of the smoke alarms, e.g. cover it with plastic, paint it.
Being a qualified and licensed electrical engineer is not required to clean or test a domestic smoke alarm. Tenants may do it themselves. Nevertheless, real estate agents may also outsource smoke alarm maintenance of another company as part of their leasing processes. Tenancy rules permit the entry of a maintenance team to comply with Australian smoke alarms legislation.
When Does the New Smoke Alarm Legislation Take Effect?
According to the Queensland government, interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms must comply to the Australian Standard 3786-2014 and be installed according to the dates provided:
Key Smoke Alarm Installation Dates
From January 1, 2017
And new and extensively renovated dwellings. This applies to all building applications submitted from January 1, 2017.
By December 31, 2021
All rental properties
From January 1, 2022
All domestic dwellings sold or leased
From January 1, 2027
All other domestic dwellings
Who Conducts Installations and Repairs of a Hard Wired Smoke Alarm?
Under the Australian law, only licensed electricians are allowed to perform any electrical installations and repairs on smoke alarms on rental properties. Both landlords and owners are prohibited from performing smoke alarm services because of the risks they may inflict. Licensed electricians must also acquire permission from local authorities to conduct these services.
Applicable Electrical Smoke Alarm Safety Requirements
Under Australian Laws, any unauthorized electrical work on smoke alarm performed by parties other than licensed electricians is considered a criminal offense. Because of the danger of possible electric shock and high risk of electrocution by complying with these activities, the law allows authorities to impose penalties, or worse, jail sentences for these infractions. Landlords are responsible for ensuring that a rental property is compliant all the way.
If you are unsure about the testing, repair, replacement, and installation of smoke alarms in your rented premises, Walt Electrical got you covered. Let a qualified Sunshine coast electrician repair or replace, and ensure smoke alarms are properly installed in your property.