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.
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).
- 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).
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.
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 opens in a new window for more information on smoke alarm types, installation and maintenance.
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.
Please contact Building Services for information on smoke alarms on 08 9411 3444 or at [email protected]