Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms save lives and can minimise damages to buildings. Find out which dwellings in the City require smoke alarms and how to choose a compliant fire alarm to avoid penalties and infringements for non-compliance with regulations under the Building Act 2011.

Why smoke alarms are important?

It is estimated that more than 50 people across Australia die from home fires each year. Many of these homes do not have working smoke alarms. A small fire can grow to engulf an entire room in as little as four minutes. It is crucial to have working smoke alarms installed to provide occupants with the critical early warning signs of a fire so that they may safely evacuate from a building.

Smoke alarms save lives and can minimise damages to buildings.

Under the Building Regulations 2012 (‘the Regulations’), dwelling owners must ensure that smoke alarms are installed prior to selling, transferring ownership, renting or hiring a dwelling. Smoke alarms must comply with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the Australian Standard for residential smoke alarms (AS 3786-2014).

What types of dwellings require smoke alarms?

  • Class 1a – Single residential dwellings and grouped dwellings or the like
  • Class 1b – Hostels / boarding houses / guest house / bed and breakfast or the like with a total area of all floors not exceeding 300m2
  • Class 2 – Apartments and flats or the like
  • Class 4 – Caretaker’s residence or the like in a non-residential building.

It is the responsibility of property owners to have compliant smoke alarms installed in the following types of dwellings (as defined in the BCA).

What is a compliant smoke alarm?

Owners must ensure that installed smoke alarms are in accordance with the BCA and the AS 3786-2014. Smoke alarms must be no more than 10 years old, when dwelling ownership is transferred, or when a building is rented or hired. They must be in working order, and permanently connected to mains power (hard-wired). A licensed electrician is required to connect the smoke alarm/s to the mains power supply.

Battery-powered smoke alarms that have a non-removable, 10-year life battery may be installed where:

  • Mains power is not connected to the dwelling, or
  • There is no hidden space in the existing dwelling to run the necessary wiring for hard wired alarms and there are no appropriate alternative locations.

Please note that the use of battery-powered smoke alarms must be approved by the City. An application must be lodged with the City and an application fee of $170 is payable.

Mains powered smoke alarms in new residential buildings (Class 1 buildings, sole-occupancy units in Class 2 or 3 buildings and Class 4 parts of a building) should be interconnected where more than one alarm is required to be installed, in cases where a building permit application was submitted after 30 April 2015.

Types of smoke alarms

There are two types of smoke alarms: ionisation and photo-electric. Each alarm detects smoke differently. DFES recommends the use of photo-electric smoke alarms in the family home. Please visit the Department of Fire and Emergency Services for more information on smoke alarm types, installation and maintenance.

Penalties and infringements

Property owners who fail to comply with the Regulations may face legal action. Under the Building Act 2011 and the Regulations, the City has the authority to issue an infringement notice or prosecute an owner for non-compliance.

The prescribed penalty for an infringement notice is $1,000. If a property owner is prosecuted by the City, the owner may be liable for a fine of $5,000.

Useful links

More information and contact

Please contact Building Services for information on smoke alarms on 08 9411 3444 or at [email protected].



City of Cockburn
Whadjuk Boodja
9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

Office opening hours:
8.30am to 4.30pm
Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.