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Legislation

Click on the tabs below for information on the legislation relating to fire alarms in your state or territory.

Please feel free to Contact Us of call Tel: 1300 766 532 if you require additional information!

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For Existing Dwellings

From 1 January 2017

When replacing smoke alarms, they must be of a photoelectric type which complies with Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014.

Replacing smoke alarms

  • Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than ten years ago must be replaced. (Note: Smoke alarms should have the date of manufacture stamped on them.)
  • Smoke alarms that do not operate when tested must be replaced immediately.
  • Existing hardwired smoke alarms that need replacement must be replaced with a hardwired smoke alarm.

From 1 January 2027

Smoke alarms in all dwellings must:

  • be photoelectric (AS 3786-2014); and
  • not also contain an ionisation sensor; and
  • be less than 10 years old; and
  • operate when tested; and
  • be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together.
  • Smoke alarms must be installed on each storey:

Dwellings being sold, leased or an existing lease is renewed

From 1 January 2017

Requirements as for existing dwellings.

  • Existing landlord’s and tenant’s obligations regarding the installation and testing of smoke alarms continue.
  • Property sellers must continue to lodge a Form 24 with the Queensland Land Registry Office stating the requirements of the smoke alarm legislation have been met.

From 1 January 2022

Smoke alarms in the dwelling must:

  1. be photoelectric (AS 3786-2014); and
  2. not also contain an ionisation sensor; and
  3. be less than 10 years old; and
  4. operate when tested; and
  5. be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together.

Smoke alarms must be installed on each storey:

  1. in each bedroom; and
  2. in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; or
  3. if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
  4. if there are no bedrooms on a storey at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.

Smoke alarms must be hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10-year battery.

New dwellings and dwellings being substantially renovated

From 1 January 2017

The development approval process for new dwellings and substantial renovations will ensure that building approvals received on or after this date will bring dwellings into compliance with the new laws.

Smoke alarms in the dwelling must:

  1. be photoelectric (AS 3786-2014); and
  2. not also contain an ionisation sensor; and
  3. be hardwired to the mains power supply with a secondary power source (i.e. battery); and
  4. be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together.

Smoke alarms must be installed on each storey:

  1. in each bedroom; and
  2. in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; or
  3. if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
  4. if there are no bedrooms on a storey at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.

Prescribed locations for installing smoke alarms

Where practicable smoke alarms must be placed on the ceiling. Smoke alarms must not be placed:

  1. within 300mm of a corner of a ceiling and a wall;
  2. within 300mm of a light fitting;
  3. within 400mm of an air-conditioning vent;
  4. within 400mm of the blades of a ceiling fan.

There are special requirements for stairways, sloping ceilings, and ceilings with exposed beams. Specific requirements will be explained in the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008.

If impractical for the prescribed location requirements to be met (e.g. may be affected by steam from shower or fumes from cooking), the owner may put the alarm at another location that will provide a warning to occupants of the dwelling.

Glossary of Terms

Dwellings – houses, townhouses (Class 1A) and units (Class 2).

Photoelectric – the method the device uses to detect smoke.

Hardwired – connected to the domestic dwelling’s electricity supply.

Interconnected – if one smoke alarm sounds all the other smoke alarms will also sound. Interconnection can be wired or wireless.

Substantial – work carried out under a building development approval or the total building works equals 50% of the dwelling over 3 years.

Storey – a space within a building which is situated between one floor level and the floor level or roof above.

Source Documents

  • Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990
  • Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008
  • Building Regulation 2006
  • National Construction Code 2016
  • Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014
  • Land Title Act 1994

 


 

The information contained in this document provides general guidance and information only and is current at the time of printing. Readers should not act or omit to act solely on the basis of anything contained herein. In relation to a particular matter, you should seek appropriate professional advice. 1300 Smoke Alarms and its agents expressly disclaim liability, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any act or omission resulting from reliance on this document or for any consequence of such act or omission

Information provided by Smoke Alarm Association Australia Ltd.

New residential tenancy laws start on 23 March 2020.

Changes to the residential tenancy laws start on 23 March 2020, with amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (the Act) and the new Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 (the new Regulation).

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New smoke alarm obligations for landlords

From 23 March 2020, all NSW landlords will need to ensure that smoke alarms installed in the rented property are in working order. A penalty will apply for landlords who fail to comply.

The details on when a landlord must repair or replace a battery-operated or hardwired smoke alarm, and when a tenant may repair or replace a smoke alarm, is in the new Regulation. The existing provision that allows landlords to enter the property without consent has been extended to specifically include inspecting or assessing the need for repairs to, or replacement of, a smoke alarm if proper notice has been given to the tenant.

Information for landlords

To ensure smoke alarms installed in the rented property are in working order, a landlord must:

  • carry out annual checks to ensure all smoke alarms installed at the property are in working order
  • replace a removable battery in all smoke alarms in the period specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer (for a removable lithium battery), or otherwise annually
  • repair or replacea smoke alarm that is not working within 2 days of becoming aware that it is not working
  • replace a smoke alarm with a new smoke alarm within 10 years from the manufactured date, or earlier if specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer.

Information for tenants

Tenants will need to notify the landlord if a repair or a replacement to a smoke alarm is required, including replacing a battery in a smoke alarm.

A tenant can choose to replace a removable battery in a smoke alarm, but they will need to notify the landlord if and when they do this. A tenant may only repair or replace a smoke alarm if the landlord fails to repair or replace a smoke alarm within the prescribed time (as detailed above). Tenants are entitled to reimbursement for the costs of a repair or replacement of a smoke alarm if they provide appropriate evidence. These provisions do not apply to social housing tenants.

We will provide a smoke alarm safety checklist and more information to ensure compliance with the new obligations before the laws start.

 


 

NSW Smoke Alarms – It’s the law

Fact:

Smoke alarms are life-saving devices that detect smoke well before any sleeping occupant would and provide critical seconds to implement actions to save life and property. Under Clause 146A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and Division 7A of Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, at least one working smoke alarm must be installed on each level in all buildings in NSW where people sleep. The smoke alarms must meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS 3786. These provisions came into effect on 1 May 2006. A person who does not comply with the legislation is guilty of an offence (maximum penalty $550).

NSW legislation provides for a minimum level of protection; however, Fire & Rescue NSW recommends owners and occupants consider higher levels of protection.

For homeowners

  • NSW legislation stipulates that smoke alarms must be installed on every level of your home. This includes owner occupied homes, rental properties, relocatable homes, caravans and camper-vans or any other residential building where people sleep.

For tenants

  • NSW legislation mandates that your landlord is responsible for ensuring your residence meets the minimal requirements of having at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home.
  • Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms in rented premises.
  • Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit smoke alarms after giving the tenant at least two days’ notice.
  • After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery, if needed, in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.
  • If the tenant is physically unable to change the battery, the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable.

For landlords

  • According to NSW legislation, neither the landlord nor the tenant are, except with reasonable excuse, permitted to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm fitted in the rented premises.
  • Where a smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, the landlord must put a new battery in at the commencement of a tenancy.
  • After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery, if needed, in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.
  • If the tenant is physically unable to change the battery the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable.
  • The condition report section of the tenancy agreement must include a specific reference to smoke alarms so that tenants and landlords are able to note and comment on the presence of smoke alarms at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

Owners of residential properties who rent out their premises as holiday accommodation are responsible for installing smoke alarms and replacing batteries. Other laws apply to boarding houses and backpackers.

For caravans and motorhomes

  • Caravans and campervans have limited escape options in the event of a fire. You have just a few seconds to get out of a burning caravan, as they are constructructed of lightweight and highly combustible fittings.. A working smoke alarm can mean the difference between life and death.
  • NSW legislation stipulates that you must have at least one working smoke alarm inside the van where the bed is, and one in the annex if people are sleeping there.
  • These smoke alarms must be fitted with a “hush” button, allowing the occupant to silence the alarm for 10 minutes.

REMEMBER

NSW legislation mandates a minimum requirement for smoke alarms; however, Fire & Rescue NSW recommends you aim for a higher level of protection with interconnected alarms installed in all bedrooms and living spaces (including hallways and stairways) and even the garage.

Sadly, 144 deaths occurred in house fires across NSW between 2000 and June 2005. On average over the past few years, 21 deaths have occurred in residential fires across NSW every year. Based on Fire & Rescue NSW research, one third to a half of those fatalities may have been prevented if the homes had working smoke alarms and had a practised home escape plan.

Any alarms installed after 1 May 2006 must comply with AS3786.

Residential accommodation requiring smoke alarms;

These types of Residential accommodation require smoke alarms; detached houses, terrace houses, town houses, villa units (Class 1a buildings), apartments, home units, flats (Class 2 buildings), caretakers flats, single residences above shops (Class 4 parts of buildings), relocatable homes, e.g. manufactured homes and moveable dwellings.

Shared accommodation requiring smoke alarms;

Shared accommodation installation is also mandatory in small boarding houses, guest houses, hostels; backpackers accommodation; bed and breakfast accommodation (Class 1b buildings), large boarding houses, guest houses, hostels, backpacker accommodation; residential parts of hotels, motels, schools, health care buildings, detention centres; certain residential accommodation for the aged, children and people with disabilities (Class 3 buildings) and hospitals and nursing homes (Class 9a health care buildings).

Further information

For more information on the Regulations:

Information sourced from: NSW Fire and Rescue

 


 

Facts

NSW legislation stipulates that residents must have at least one working smoke alarm (sometimes mistakenly referred to as “smoke detectors”) 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 are life-saving devices that provide benefits for occupants. They detect smoke well before any sleeping occupant would and provide critical seconds to implement actions to save life and property.

Smoke alarms are designed to detect fire smoke and emit a loud and distinctive sound to alert occupants of potential danger.

The Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 commenced in NSW on 1 May, 2006.

The legislation refers to residential accommodation across NSW and requires the installation of one or more smoke alarms in buildings in which people sleep, smoke alarms installed in such buildings must be operational, and people must not remove or interfere with the operation of smoke alarms installed in such buildings. A person who does not comply with the legislation is guilty of an offence (maximum penalty $550).

These types of Residential accommodation require smoke alarms; detached houses, terrace houses, town houses, villa units (Class 1a buildings), apartments, home units, flats (Class 2 buildings) caretakers flats, single residences above shops (Class 4 parts of buildings), relocatable homes, eg manufactured homes and moveable dwellings, campervans, caravans but not tents or soft sided camper trailers.

Shared accommodation installation is also mandatory in small boarding houses, guest houses, hostels; backpackers accommodation; bed and breakfast accommodation (Class 1b buildings), large boarding houses, guest houses, hostels, backpacker accommodation; residential parts of hotels, motels, schools, health care buildings, detention centres; certain residential accommodation for the aged, children and people with disabilities (Class 3 buildings) and hospitals and nursing homes (Class 9a health care buildings).

Any alarms installed after 1 May 2006 must comply with AS3786.

Remember

On average, 21 deaths occur in residential fires across NSW every year. Based on FRNSW Fire Investigation and Research Unit case study research, one third to a half of those fatalities may have been prevented if the homes had working smoke alarms and had a practised home escape plan.

Fire and Rescue NSW is encouraging residents to aim for a higher level of protection by installing interconnected smoke alarms in every bedroom, living space (including hallways and stairways) and even the garage in their home.

Information sourced from: NSW Fire and Rescue

 


 

The information contained in this document provides general guidance and information only and is current at the time of printing. Readers should not act or omit to act solely on the basis of anything contained herein. In relation to a particular matter, you should seek appropriate professional advice. 1300 Smoke Alarms and its agents expressly disclaim liability, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any act or omission resulting from reliance on this document or for any consequence of such act or omission

Information provided by Smoke Alarm Association Australia Ltd.

Installation of smoke alarms in all Territory premises is now law

What do new smoke alarm laws in the Northern Territory require?

From 01 November 2011 owners of residential premises, moveable dwellings, caravans and temporary accommodation including safari-style tents must ensure approved smoke alarms1 are installed in those premises or dwellings in accordance with the requirements of regulation 13B.

1 approved smoke alarm means: a photo-electric smoke alarm that

  • (a) complies with AS3786 (Smoke alarms); and
  • (b) is wired or is a sealed 10 year lithium battery unit

If you are renting, selling or hiring any of the above premises, you must install approved smoke alarms in accordance with requirements of AS3786 (Smoke Alarms) prior to the transfer of the property, or the commencement of the lease or hire agreement. When establishing a new lease on rental property, a landlord must ensure that approved smoke alarms are installed; however, the responsibility for maintaining the smoke alarms in working order will be that of the tenant.

What do I need to do?

If your home was built before 1 July 1997, and you don’t already have smoke alarms installed, you will need to buy and install smoke alarms in accordance with Australian Standards 3786. If your home was built after 1997, it should have 240 volt (hard wired) smoke alarms installed at the time it was built. This is a requirement under the Building Code of Australia (BCA). If you have done major renovations to your home since 1997 it should have included the installation of 240 volt (hard wired) smoke alarms.

Do I have to change my existing ionisation smoke alarms?

If on commencement of this regulation one or more ionisation smoke alarms have been installed in the residential premises or moveable dwelling in accordance with the relevant requirements of the Building Code then the necessity to install an approved smoke alarm does not apply UNTIL the earliest of the following –

  • an ionisation smoke alarm installed in the premises or dwelling ceases to function – the day of cessation;
  • the owner enters into a contract to sell the premises or dwelling – the day before the date of settlement of the contract;
  • the owner agrees to enter into a tenancy agreement, or renew or extend a tenancy agreement, in relation to the premises – the day before the tenancy agreement or renewal or extension takes effect;
  • the owner agrees to enter into a hire agreement, or renew or extend a hire agreement, in relation to the dwelling – the day before the hire agreement or renewal or extension takes effect.

Does installation of compulsory smoke alarms have any effect on domestic household insurance?

The Insurance Council of Australia advises that it is a matter for individual insurance companies to determine what attitude they will take in the event of a fire claim where no smoke alarm had been fitted, in contravention of the mandatory smoke alarm requirement. Persons who are concerned about this should check with their insurer.

Is it compulsory to install smoke alarms in mobile homes and caravan/motor homes in the Northern Territory?

It is a requirement that the owner of residential premises or a moveable dwelling must ensure approved smoke alarms are installed in the premises or dwelling. www.nt.gov.au/pfes

A moveable dwelling is defined as –

  • (a) a manufactured home; or
  • (b) a caravan; or
  • (c) a permanently sited tent that – i) has a permanent floor structure; and ii) is used or offered for use for residential purposes.

Further, the definition of a caravan includes a habitable structure designed to be towed or carried by a motor vehicle, and therefore covers tray top and towable camper trailers.

Whilst mobile homes and motor homes are not strictly included in the definitions under legislation, the NTFRS strongly recommends the installation of smoke alarms in these vehicles.

Regulation 13B – Installation

For residential premises, smoke alarms must be installed in accordance with the following:

Class 1a and Class 2 buildings

Smoke alarms must be installed in a Class 1a building on or near the ceiling in –

  • (a) any storey containing bedrooms – (i) between each part of the dwelling containing bedrooms and the remainder of the dwelling; and (ii) where bedrooms are served by a hallway, in that hallway; and
  • (b) any other storey not containing bedrooms (see Fig. 3 for multilevel)

Class 1b building

Smoke alarms must be installed on or near the ceiling –

  • (a) in every bedroom; and
  • (b) in every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom, or if there is no corridor or hallway, in an area between the bedrooms and the remainder of the building; and
  • (c) on each other storey. (see Fig. 3 for multilevel)

Multilevel homes and properties

Smoke alarms should be installed in each bedroom, in corridors and hallways that lead to exits and the living area. If you are installing smoke alarms in a multilevel home or property you should have an additional alarm in the stairway between each level. Often people sleep with their bedroom doors closed at night and only a smoke alarm installed in that room will detect a fire fast enough to get out safely.

Smoke alarms should be installed on or near the ceiling, with special care taken to avoid installation in the following areas:

  • the apex of cathedral ceilings
  • the corner junction of walls and ceilings
  • between exposed beams, where there may be a dead air space

If it is not practical to install the smoke alarm on the ceiling, then it may be installed on the wall between 300mm to 500mm below the ceiling. For cathedral ceilings, between 500mm and 1500mm from the apex to the top of the alarm.

For a caravan, one smoke alarm must be installed on the ceiling of the caravan.

If it is not practicable for a smoke alarm to be installed at the location required under this regulation, the smoke alarm may be installed at another location that will provide a warning to occupants of the residential premises or moveable dwelling, for example a smoke alarm that is regularly activated by steam from a bathroom or smoke or fumes from a kitchen may be moved to another appropriate location.

Regulation 13D and 13C – Maintenance requirements

Smoke alarms in residential premises or moveable dwellings must be tested at intervals of not more than 12 months. Any smoke alarm that does not function when tested must be replaced immediately; any stand-by battery that is spent or almost spent must be replaced immediately.

Each smoke alarm in the premises or dwelling must be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions at intervals of not more than 12 months.

 


 

The information contained in this document provides general guidance and information only and is current at the time of printing. Readers should not act or omit to act solely on the basis of anything contained herein. In relation to a particular matter, you should seek appropriate professional advice. 1300 Smoke Alarms and its agents expressly disclaim liability, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any act or omission resulting from reliance on this document or for any consequence of such act or omission

Information provided by Smoke Alarm Association Australia Ltd.