Electrical Safety: Smoke Alarms

Electrical Safety – Everything Homeowners, Landlords and Tenants need to know:

All Brisbane property owners and managers have a duty of care under electrical safety laws to ensure that their rental property is electrically safe for all tenants and people that may visit or work on the premises.

Over the course of our Electrical Safety Series we will discuss the 10 main areas of electrical safety and maintenance that the homeowner, landlord and tenant needs to be aware of.

1. Safety Switches

2. Smoke Alarms

3. DIY

4. Roof Spaces

5. Faults, Tingles and Shocks

6. Overhead Powerlines and Service Lines

7. Private Power Pole Maintenance

8. Dial before you Dig

9. Maintaining Electrical Equipment

10. Solar Systems

Smoke Alarms

By the 1st January 2022, you must ensure that your home/ unit meets the new requirements of the domestic smoke alarm legislation that came into effect on 1 January 2017. All the details of the new laws are outlined below.

For Tenants

  • During a tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the tenant must test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling, at least once every 12 months.
  • To test a smoke alarm, press the ‘test’ button. Cleaning should be done according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which is usually vacuuming.
  • The Tenant must replace flat or nearly flat batteries
  • The tenant must tell their property owner or real estate agent if there is a problem with the smoke alarm (apart from flat batteries)
  • The tenant must let the property owner or real estate agent into your home to install, test or replace smoke alarms.

Remember you must never remove or touch a smoke alarm or the battery unless you are testing it, cleaning it or replacing the battery

It is the Landlords responsibility to install smoke alarms that comply with smoke alarm legislation introduced on 1 January 2017. Your property owner or real estate agent must test and clean each smoke alarm in the property before the start of your lease.

What if I am Deaf?

There are specialised smoke alarms for our hearing impaired community. These alarm work by alerting the residents to a fire hazard through sight (flashing lights) and feel (vibrating pads), giving them the time to evacuate the home safely.

The flashing strobe light is placed on the bedside table, and the vibration pad under the pillow on the bed. Plug the flashing strobe light (with the connected vibration pad) into a power point (normally at the bedside table). You will see a green light on flashing strobe light. The smoke alarm will wirelessly connect with the flashing lights and pads and activate when you press the “test” button.

For more information, and to receive installation subsidies please click here

For Landlords and Homeowners

Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms which comply with new Smoke Alarm legislation that was introduced on 1 January 2017. All alarm systems are to be compliant by 1st January 2022.

What does the new laws require?

  • All existing smoke alarms that were manufactured more than 10 years ago, as well as any smoke alarms that do not operate when tested, must be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms that comply with the Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014 (which is clearly marked on the sensor). They must not also contain an ionisation sensor.
  • All photoelectric alarms must be interconnected with every other ‘required’ smoke alarm in the dwelling, so they all activate together.
  • Any existing hardwired smoke alarms must be replaced with a hardwired photoelectric smoke alarm.
  • It is possible to have a combination of hardwired and 240v battery operated smoke alarms with interconnectivity via wired or wireless means.
  • The landlord has a responsibility to make sure that all smoke alarms are tested and cleaned within 30 days before the start of a new tenancy in a domestic dwelling.
  • You do not need to be qualified to test or clean a domestic smoke alarm. However, some real estate agents may outsource regular smoke alarm maintenance to another company with associated fees paid for by the homeowner. They do this to obtain a “certificate of compliance” as part of their safety policies and procedures. It’s also important for the landlord to know that regular maintenance is being performed. Heavy fines will be issued for non compliant alarms.
  • By law all domestic homes/ units must have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms in all bedrooms, in hallways where bedrooms are connected and on every level of the residence.
  • If your existing smoke alarms were manufactured less than 10 years ago and are still in good working order, they will comply with the new requirements. (smoke alarms have their manufacture date stamped on them).
  • Smoke alarms that do not operate when tested must be replaced immediately.
  • Test and clean smoke alarms and replace any flat or nearly flat batteries within 30 days before the start or renewal of a tenancy.
  • Never remove or touch a smoke alarm unless you are testing it, cleaning it or replacing the battery

Where should alarms be placed?

Typically, and where practical smoke alarms are placed on the ceiling. To be compliant they must not be placed within:

  • 300mm of a corner of a ceiling and a wall
  • 300mm of a light fitting
  • 400mm of an air-conditioning vent
  • 400mm of the blades of a ceiling fan.

How to avoid nuisance alarms

When smoke detectors keep going off they become irritating to the people living in the home, which typically leads to batteries being removed or interconnected systems being disabled. We help avoid this from happening by restricting installation in the following areas:

  • In dead air space. This is an area in which trapped hot air will prevent smoke from reaching the alarm. This space generally occurs at the apex of cathedral ceilings, the corner junction of walls and ceilings, and between exposed floor joists.
  • Near windows, doors, fans or air-conditioners. Excessive air movement may prevent smoke and gases from reaching the smoke alarm or cause nuisance alarms.
  • Don’t place alarms in or near kitchens where cooking smoke can set them off, or in or near bathrooms where steam often causes accidental alarms.

Quick Information Guides

Photoelectric Alarms – what are they?

Smoke Alarm Legislation

Installation Guide

Maintenance and Replacement Guide

Do you need your smoke detectors bought up to date? Triforce Electrical has been installing these systems in Brisbane rental properties over the last 10 years. We know the laws, what to buy and where to put them. We are trusted by many real estates and landlords. Call us today.


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