We all know that smoke alarms are a necessity in all homes and occupied premises. In this article, I will give you information on different kinds of smoke alarms, rules and regulations, your obligations and some tips to maintain your smoke detection system.
What Type of Smoke Alarms Should Be Installed?
There are two types of smoke alarms that are commonly installed throughout QLD premises. These are Photoelectric and Ionisation alarms. I am sure you would have heard of these two options and maybe seen them for sale in your local Bunnings or hardware supply store.
Surprisingly and unfortunately both types can be legally purchased and used as both of these types meet the required Australian Standard AS3786. As a qualified electrician and contractor, I would never recommend or install Ionisation smoke alarms to any of my customers, friends or family.
For many years now photoelectric smoke alarms have been the recommended alarm by Australian Fire Authorities and Fire Brigades. A global campaign is now calling for a total ban of ionisation alarms.
Within Australia, the NT is on the correct path and leading the way with the Northern Territory Fire Service already legislating against the use of ionisation alarms. It is only a matter of time before other states follow and Ionisation smoke alarms are completely banned and will need to be replaced with photoelectric detectors.
What Smoke Alarms Are in My Home?
The best way to tell what smoke alarms you have and whether you are in need of an upgraded S/D system is to call an electrical contractor and get them to check. Sometimes you can easily see yourself if you have an Ionisation smoke alarm but it can be harder to work out if they are correctly positioned or working correctly.
It should be clearly stated on each smoke detectors label whether it is an ionisation or photoelectric smoke alarm.
However, if it is not clearly stated you will see a bright yellow ‘radiation’ symbol inside or on the back of an ionisation alarm. If you see this symbol then it’s a good sign that you should have a smoke alarm inspection.
I would go through every bedroom and hallway and make sure you have smoke alarms in place. It is extremely important to have the alarms in bedrooms as this is where a lot of fire start and if the bedroom door is closed it may take far too long for a hallway alarm to detect the smoke. If your smoke alarm system is installed correctly with good quality interconnected units your family will have much more time to get out of the house.
Smoke Alarm Laws and Regulations
Here is what you need to know about your obligations when it comes to smoke alarms systems.
Queensland’s laws and regulations require new homes to have smoke alarms in every bedroom, passageways and living areas. They have to be hardwired and interconnected photoelectric detectors with a backup battery. If it is not possible to wire smoke alarms in your home (multi-level or no roof access homes) then 10-year lithium battery, wireless smoke detectors can be used.
Why not get your home to this standard before the deadline? From January 2022 every home leased or sold has to meet this regulation. By 2027 every single home in QLD has to comply. I believe that the closer we get to this deadline the more you will have to pay for the smoke alarm upgrades to meet the standard. Not to mention the difficulty of trying to get someone out to do the work. If I needed to have my smoke alarms upgraded, I would get it done as soon as possible. You can have full hard-wired Clipsal smoke alarms SUPPLIED AND INSTALLED from $95 through Sorted Electrical.
Why Should I Upgrade My Smoke Alarms?
Older homes more often than not have ionization smoke alarms installed, these are usually not interconnected and past their replacement date. The main concern with ionization alarms is the time it takes them to detect smouldering fires. In tests, ionization alarms on average responded 15-50 MINUTES SLOWER than photoelectric alarms.
Have you had problems with your smoke alarms being triggered for no reason or constantly beeping? This is a sign that your alarms are not working correctly. When new photoelectric alarms are installed you won’t get nuisance warnings or beeping. They provide early detection and are less prone to be triggered by cooking or steam from the bathroom.
Photoelectric smoke alarms have been the only type recommended by Australian Fire Authorities, Fire Brigades and the International Association of Fire Fighters. In fact, a global campaign is now calling for a total ban of ionisation alarms.
Tips for Smoke Alarm Maintenance
Did you know you can vacuum your smoke alarms? This is a great way to extract built-up dust and little insects that get inside the unit. Dust and insects can damage the smoke alarm and also cause nuisance warnings, I’m sure you have had alarms sounding for no reason before? Every few times you vacuum the house just give the smoke alarms a quick clean and this will increase their life and keep them working correctly.
Another tip for smoke alarm maintenance and also your own safety is to replace the backup battery every 6 months. Most hardwired alarms have a 9-volt battery, these are not expensive so its well worth buying a packet and having them on hand. Smoke alarms should also give a warning beep/sound when the battery is getting flat, it is very important to replace the battery at this stage.
Now that you have some insight into smoke alarms and QLD requirements, is it time you made a booking with an electrician? In a few hours, you could have the full upgrade with up to date smoke alarms and a much safer home. We specialise is a smoke alarm installation and offer very competitive pricing. Call for a quote!