The Queensland Government has made some critical changes to the rules for smoke alarms in tenanted and owner-occupied properties.
The first change is for tenanted properties and comes into effect on January 1.
From that date, First National Coastal property manager Heather Palmer says that at the commencement of a new lease or at the time of a renewal, installed alarm units must meet the requirements of the updated smoke alarm legislation.
The alarms must be to Australian Standard 3786-2014. Units aged 10 years and older must be replaced with a compliant alarm.
These alarms must be installed in every bedroom, and in hallways that connect bedrooms and the rest of the home or in spaces between bedrooms when there isn’t a hallway. On floors where there are no bedrooms there must be at least one smoke alarm installed in the most likely path used to leave a home.
“And they all need to be interconnected,” Ms Palmer says. “In duplexes, they need to have their own separate alarm systems, not one for the full property under roof.”
The alarms must be hard-wired or wireless alarms powered by non-removal 10-year lithium battery, or a combination of both.
“The changes are possibly overdue and result from tragic circumstances where a fire has started in one part of the house and if it’s not alarmed all the way through, occupants can be trapped,” Ms Palmer says. “I think a couple of sad circumstances has made them (the Government) look very, very hard at this.
“With the new regulations all alarms have to be interlinked. So, if one goes off, they all go off.”
For owner-occupied properties, owners have until January 1, 2027 to make their home compliant.
But for investment and owner-occupied properties being sold from January 1, 2022 the property must be compliant prior to settlement of the sales contract.
“If your smoke alarm is over 10 years old there will be an issue,” Ms Palmer says. “I am always telling owners that if their smoke alarms aren’t fully functional it might void their insurance policy.
“I fully believe an owner has the duty of care to ensure their property is compliant.”
Ms Palmer suggests owners should talk to their local electrician about upgrading a property’s smoke alarms, and to double-check the right alarm units are installed in the right locations, and that they are interconnected and working.
PRESCRIBED LOCATIONS FOR INSTALLING SMOKE ALARMS
Where practicable smoke alarms must be placed on the ceiling. Smoke alarms must not be placed:
i) within 300mm of a corner of a ceiling and a wall;
ii) within 300mm of a light fitting;
iii) within 400mm of an air-conditioning vent;
iv) within 400mm of the blades of a ceiling fan.
There are special requirements for stairways, sloping ceilings, and ceilings with exposed beams. These requirements are explained in the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008. Penalties may be imposed for non-compliance with the law.
For more information: qfes.qld.gov.au, and search smoke alarms.