For existing dwellings
From 1 January 2017
- Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago must be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms which comply with Australian Standards (AS) 3786-2014. (Note: the date should be stamped on the back)
- 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 photoelectric smoke alarm.
- It is also recommended that:
- smoke alarms be either hardwired or
- powered by a non-removable 10-year battery; and
- ionisation smoke alarms be replaced with a photoelectric type as soon as possible
- For the best protection smoke alarms should be installed on each storey:
- in every bedroom
- in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
- 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 should be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.
- All smoke alarms should be interconnected.
- To get everyone out safely during a house fire, it is essential to also have a well-practised fire escape plan.
From 1 January 2027
- All existing private homes, townhouses and units will require photoelectric interconnected smoke alarms. These must be either a hardwired (eg. 240v) or non-removeable 10 year battery powered type alarm.
- The legislation requires smoke alarms must be installed in the following locations:
- on each storey
- in each bedroom
- in hallways that connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
- if there is no hallway, between the bedroom 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.
About photoelectric alarms
Photoelectric alarms, also known as optical or photo-optical, detect visible particles of combustion and respond to a wide range of fires.
What’s required by law?
When it is time for your property’s alarms to be upgraded, those alarms must:
- be photoelectric and comply with Australian Standard 3786-2014
- not also contain an ionisation sensor; and
- be less than 10 years old; and
- operate when tested; and
- be interconnected with every other ‘required’ smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together.
Any existing smoke alarm being replaced from 1 January 2017 must be a photoelectric-type alarm which complies with Australian Standard 3786-2014.
If a smoke alarm which is hardwired to the domestic power supply needs replacement, it must be replaced with a hardwired photoelectric smoke alarm.
In existing domestic dwellings, it is possible to have a combination of smoke alarms (240v and battery operated) and interconnectivity can be both wired and wireless.
What to buy?
Smoke alarms must comply with the Standard AS 3786-2014 and should have the following labels.
What to avoid?
Smoke alarms with this symbol are not photoelectric.
Exactly where should I place them
Where practicable smoke alarms must be placed on the ceiling.
Smoke alarms 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.
There are special requirements for stairways, sloping ceilings, and ceilings with exposed beams.
Every dwelling is different so you will need to assess yours. Avoid installation in the following positions:
- 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.
Accidental alarms can be a nuisance and become dangerous if home owners remove the alarm batteries or disable an interconnected system to silence the alarm.
Nuisance alarms can be avoided by not placing alarms in or near kitchens where cooking smoke can set them off, or in or near bathrooms where steam often causes accidental alarms.
Also avoid insect infested areas, as insects flying into the alarm can trigger an alarm.