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FAQ

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Who does the new legislation affect?​​

The new legislation only affects class 1a buildings (e.g. houses/townhouses) and class 2 buildings (e.g. units/apartments). It does not include short term stay dwellings such as holiday units, motels, dormitories, caravans or other buildings. These other buildings are covered by the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

For detailed definitions of building classifications, refer to the BCA. 

Does this affect me if I am building my house or unit now? 

Any new dwelling that had an application to be constructed submitted after 31 December 2016 will need to comply fully with the new legislation.

Installation requirements

Hard-wired 240-volt photoelectric smoke alarms must be installed on each storey;

  • in each bedroom; and
  • in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; or if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
  • 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; and
  • all smoke alarms must be interconnected. 

    Additional information is available in the Smoke Alarm Installation Information Sheet

What if I am having a major renovation done to my dwelling?

If your dwelling is undergoing a major renovation and a building certifier has been engaged to assess and approve the building work, the building certifier will determine what smoke alarms are required in the dwelling in line with all relevant legislation.

What am I required to have in my home now in terms of smoke alarms?

All existing dwellings, at a minimum, are required to have a smoke alarm:

  • in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; or
  • if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
  • 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.

    Dwellings constructed after 1997 are required to have 240 volt hard wired smoke alarms, all others may be battery operated.

    Dwellings constructed after 2014 are required to have their smoke alarms interconnected to each other.

Do I have to change anything now?

Yes, if your smoke alarms are old or not working.

From 1 January 2017 for all existing dwellings…

  • If the smoke alarms are older than 10-years or if they fail to operate when tested they must be replaced.
  • If they are replaced they must be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms and powered by what is currently there (i.e. if they are powered by 240-volt they must be replaced with 240-volt smoke detectors, otherwise battery operated photoelectric are fine).   
  • All smoke alarms that are required by legislation, when necessary, must be replaced with Australian Standard 3786–2014 compliant smoke alarms. 

When do I need to install more smoke alarms and interconnect them? 

From 1 January 2022 for dwellings being leased, re-leased or sold.

From 1 January 2027 for all other dwellings.

The smoke alarms installed after these dates will be required to be powered by either hard-wired 240-volt or 10-year tamper proof battery and be interconnected by either wired or wirelessly to all other required smoke alarms in the dwelling.  All smoke alarms that are required by legislation must be AS3786–2014 compliant smoke alarms. 

Where will smoke alarms need to be installed? 

From 1 January 2022 for dwellings being leased, released or sold or 1 January 2027 for all other dwellings

Smoke alarms must be installed on each storey;

  • in each bedroom; and
  • in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; or
  • if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
  • 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.

    Additional information is available in the Smoke Alarm Installation Information Sheet

Where do smoke alarms need to be installed in a room?

While the centre of the room if the preferred location for smoke alarms, this is not a requirement.  On a flat ceiling they have to be 300mm from corners or lights and 400mm from anything that may blow air such as air conditioner heads or the edge of the blade of a ceiling fan. 

Can I install battery operated smoke alarms?

  • All new constructions and major renovations require hardwired 240-volt smoke alarms. 
  • An existing dwelling with 240-volt smoke alarms must replace them when required with 240-volt photoelectric type smoke alarms.
  • An existing dwelling with battery operated smoke alarms may replace them when required with battery operated photoelectric type smoke alarms that meet the Australian Standard 3786–2014.
  • From 1 January 2022 for dwellings being leased/released or sold, or 1 January 2027 for all other dwellings, all battery operated smoke alarms must be 10-year tamper proof battery smoke alarms.

What does interconnected mean?

Interconnected smoke alarms are connected to other smoke alarms in the dwelling either directly or wirelessly.  This means that if one smoke alarm detects smoke, they all sound. 

Will I have to run new wiring in my home to interconnect the smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms can be interconnected any way that allows all smoke alarms to sound when one is in alarm (i.e. when one activates they all sound). This can be done by physically wiring together or using wireless technology (or a combination of both). Wireless technology is available for both 240-volt and battery operated smoke alarms.

Who do I get to install my smoke alarms?

Any person can legally install a battery powered smoke alarm.

240-volt smoke alarms connect to the electricity supply and must be connected by a licenced electrician.

What are the smoke alarm installation responsibilities of a landlord and tenant in a rental property? 

The landlord is responsible for the installation of smoke alarms that comply with legislation.

Additional information on installation is available in the Smoke Alarm Installation Information Sheet

Who is responsible in a rental property to clean and test the smoke alarms?   

Within 30 days before the start of a tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the lessor/landlord must test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling. 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.

A renewal or extension of an existing tenancy agreement is also deemed to be the start of a new tenancy agreement.

For example if the tenant stayed for 6 months and another tenant moved in the lessor would need to test and clean the smoke alarms within 30 days prior to the new lease starting. Even if the tenant only stayed for 2 months the lessor would still need to test and clean prior to the new lease taking affect.

Test has a definition in the legislation and it is by pressing the 'test' button or as stated in the manufacturer's instructions.

Clean also has a definition in the legislation and that is "in the way stated in the manufacturer's instructions", which is normally vacuuming.  

How do I maintain (test and clean) a smoke alarm?

Test the smoke alarm by pressing the 'test' button or as stated in the manufacturer's instructions.

Clean "in the way stated in the manufacturer's instructions" which is normally vacuuming.  

Do you need to be qualified or licenced to test and clean smoke alarms?

There is no legal requirement for any qualification or certification to test or clean a domestic smoke alarm.

Some real estate agents may outsource smoke alarm maintenance to another company with associated fees paid by the landlord.  The real estate may request a "certificate of compliance" from these companies as proof of service. This is not a legal requirement but may be part of the real estate agent's internal process. 

Does the smoke alarm have to be to a particular Australian Standard?

All smoke alarms that are required to be installed or replaced by the legislation must be a photoelectric type smoke alarm that complies with Australian Standard 3786–2014.

How do I know if a smoke alarm meets Australian Standard 3786–2014?

Australian Standard 3786–2014 requires the smoke alarm to have on the body of the smoke alarm the words "AS3786–2014".

These words may not appear on the packaging. Check the packaging has the Australian Standard symbols on it and if in doubt ask the person selling the product if the smoke alarm complies with the 2014 standard. 

Does the domestic smoke alarm legislation apply to a motel?

The new domestic smoke alarm legislation only applies to domestic dwellings (e.g. houses, townhouses, apartments, units).  It does not apply to motel buildings.

The requirement of any building to have fire safety installations installed (such as electronically monitored smoke detectors) is determined by a building certifier before construction of the building based on the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA), the size and type of building and the year it was constructed.  Through the years, as technology develops, the installations required by the BCA will change.

The BCA requirements however are not retrospective and a building only has to comply with the requirements at the time of construction.  This is why a newer motel building will have different fire safety installations than an older one.  To ascertain the requirements for a particular building the original building papers (plans, approvals, etc.) must be referenced.  If they are not available a building certifier would need to be engaged to make a determination based on the age, size, classification etc. of the building.

Can the domestic smoke alarm legislation be enforced?

Yes.  The regulatory authority of the domestic smoke alarm legislation in Queensland is the Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 and the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008. The only delegated authority to administer this legislation is an "authorised officer" of the QFES.  QFES is currently the only entity that has the statutory powers to initiate enforcement action under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 and no other individual or entity have these statutory powers.

However, the domestic smoke alarm legislation was introduced to provide early occupant warning to all occupants of a dwelling in the event of a fire. This early warning combined with a practised fire escape plan ensures all occupants can safely exit the dwelling to a place of safety.  Therefore education will be the focus rather than enforcement.

Why should I replace my ionisation smoke alarm now, when it is still functioning well?

Ionisation smoke alarms may not operate in time to alert you early enough to escape a smouldering fire. Smouldering fires are the major cause of fatalities in house fires.

Contact us for more information

If you have a specific question or require further clarification, please email SmokeAlarms@qfes.qld.gov.au

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