Smoke alarm ceiling mounted
04 November 2016

The Queensland Government has just passed the Fire and Emergency Services (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Amendment Bill 2016. This bill commence on 1 January 2017 and are to be phased in over a 10 year period. From commencement, if an existing smoke alarm needs to be replaced, it is to be replaced by a photoelectric smoke alarm.

  1. The amendments have been introduced following a coronial inquest on 28 November 2014 in which the State Coroner made two broad recommendations:1. That legislative amendments be made to mandate the installation of photoelectric and interconnected smoke alarms in every bedroom, between areas containing bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling, in any hallway servicing bedrooms and in any other storey of a domestic dwelling. For new residences, the Coroner recommended that the smoke alarms be hard-wired, while in existing residences, smoke alarms may be hard-wired or powered by a 10-year lithium battery;
  2. That Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) conduct enhanced awareness campaigns including promoting the development of practised escape plans.

These measures are supported by QFES as providing best practice in the use of smoke alarms. Evidence exists to suggest that each component of these revised smoke alarm provisions will reduce the risk of harm to residents in a house fire.

The Bill:

Requires that smoke alarms that comply with Australian Standard 3786-2014 be installed in domestic dwellings and that the smoke alarms be photoelectric, interconnected and be powered by an enduring power source (hard-wired or 10yearlithium battery); and

Requires that smoke alarms be installed in locations as prescribed in the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 for existing domestic dwellings and the Building Regulation 2006 for new dwellings.

These new provisions will apply to domestic dwellings where an application for a building approval is made after 31 December 2016 and the building work is a substantial renovation.

From 31 December 2021, these new requirements will apply to existing residential properties where a Contract of Sale is entered into or a Tenancy is entered into or renewed.

These amendments also require that owners of residential properties, including Landlords, replace smoke alarms under the amended requirements within 10 years after the manufacture date or if they fail when routinely tested.

In Summary

These changes commence on 1 January 2017 and are to be phased in over a 10 year period. From commencement, if an existing smoke alarm needs to be replaced, it is to be replaced by a photoelectric smoke alarm.

New or substantially renovated homes will need to be compliant with the new smoke alarm provisions.

After five years from commencement, all dwellings that are sold or leased will need to be in compliance at the time a Tenancy Agreement, Contract of Sale is entered into.

All other homes will be required to be in compliance within 10 years of commencement.

From 1 January 2017

  • When replacing smoke alarms, they must be of a photoelectric type which complies with Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014.
  • Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than ten years ago must be replaced.
  • Property sellers must lodge a Form 24 with the Queensland Land Registry Office stating the requirements of the new smoke alarm legislation have been met.
  • The development approval process for new dwellings and substantial renovations will ensure that building works approved after this date will bring dwellings into compliance with the new laws that will apply to existing dwellings from 1 January 2022.

From 1 January 2022

  • When a property is sold, leased, or an existing lease is renewed
    Smoke alarms in the dwelling must:
    i) be photoelectric (AS 3786-2014); and
    ii) not also contain an ionisation sensor; and
    iii) be less than 10 years old; and
    iv) operate when tested; and
    v) be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate
  • Smoke alarms must be installed on each storey:
    i) in each bedroom; and
    ii) in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; or
    iii) if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
    iv) 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.
  • Smoke alarms must be hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10-year battery
    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 or the blades of a ceiling fan.

From 1 January 2027
Smoke alarm laws (as above) will apply to all properties in Queensland.

While Landlords effectively have 5 years to make their properties fully compliant with the new Legislation, it is recommended that this be instigated sooner to avoid delay int he future.

Source: Nicole Garnham, Real Estate Dynamics 2016