Frequently Asked Questions

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Who is responsible for maintaining smoke detectors?
Smoke detectors, or smoke alarms are the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain and service. In Australia, every property must contain at least one working smoke alarm on every level of a home. The smoke alarms must also meet the requirements of Australian Standards.
What are the different rules for smoke alarms in different states?
Even though smoke alarms are mandatory, smoke alarm legislation does vary state to state. Here is a quick outline on the different laws across Australia:

NSW & ACT – smoke alarms must be installed on every level of a property, including owner occupied and rental properties. They must be tested and check every 12 months and replaced every 10 years. It is a landlord’s responsibility to maintain a smoke alarm in a rental property. And a tenant’s responsibility to notify a landlord or agent if the alarm is faulty within 48 hours.

VIC – Property Managers need to give a tenant an information fact sheet on all the different types of smoke alarms and how to maintain them. An electrician needs to service them every 12 months when a property is being tenanted. Smoke alarms must be hardwired alarms in properties built after 1997.

SA – All homes must be fitted with a working smoke alarm. Homeowners and landlords are responsible for making sure that they are working at all times.
WA – All smoke alarms need to be positioned in accordance with the Building Code of Australia they all must be connected to main power and if you sell or rent the home the alarms must be less than 10 years old from the date of installation.

QLD – All properties in Queensland need to have interconnecting photoelectric smoke alarms in every bedroom and all hallways connecting to bedrooms.

TAS – It is the tenant’s responsibility to make sure a smoke alarm is functioning throughout the whole tenancy. They must let the owner, or the property manager know as soon as the alarm is not working, and the owner is responsible for repairs.

NT – Smoke alarms need to be in every dwelling including movable dwellings like caravans. Homeowners and Landlords need to test them every 12 months.

Do fire stations give away free smoke alarms?
Fire stations across Australia will have different community programs across the different states. In New South Wales, the Fire Department will organize a home fire and safety check for community members that are statistically at a higher risk of incidents. These people include – over 65s, people who live alone, people with limited mobility or impaired vision and hearing or anyone from non-English-speaking backgrounds. On these visits they will provide smoke alarms or replace smoke alarms at no charge if properties do not have any or they have expired.
What maintenance is required for smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms needs to be replaced every 10 years, unless specified by the manufacturer. They will have a manufacturers date stamped on the back of the alarm. You can add ten years to this date and that is when it will expire. Some smoke alarms will also give an expiry date.

If the smoke alarm has a lithium battery enclosed it will only need replacing every ten years, with the smoke alarm. If the batteries are 9v lead or alkaline they need replacing every 12 months. Every six months it is a good idea to dust the alarm to rid it of dust. Once a month you should also test the batteries by holding down the test button for up to five seconds until it beeps.

Is a landlord responsible for smoke alarms?
Across Australia the legislation is the same in every state, it is the landlords’ responsibility to make sure smoke alarms are installed and working in rented properties. Tenants are responsible for cleaning the smoke alarms, and changing their batteries if needed, except in South Australia it is also the landlords’ responsibility to clean the smoke alarms and replace the batteries.
Is a Property Manager responsible for smoke alarms?
Property Managers must make sure that there are working smoke alarms in all rental properties. The condition report of a tenancy agreement must include specific information regarding the smoke alarms, and they must confirm the presence of smoke alarms at the beginning, and the end of a tenancy. Many Property Managers and Real Estate Agencies will outsource this to a compliance company, like BCMC Safety Solutions and allow them to take responsibility for the alarms.
How much does it cost to maintain a smoke alarm?
If a homeowner is renting the property to someone the cost of making sure the smoke alarms are compliant for a tenant is the responsibility of an Owner. Many Owners will outsource this to a compliance company. The cost can vary, depending on other mandatory property compliance needed and will cost between $69 - $99 per year. This will give the owner a full compliance report every year for the peace of mind of tenants, owners and property managers.
What is the difference between a hardwired smoke alarm, a battery-operated alarm, and a photoelectric smoke alarm?
A hardwired smoke alarm is connected to the main power supply of a property and powered by 240V but will also have a back up battery, adding extra protection in the case of a power failure or blackout. There are two different types of hardwired smoke alarms: ionization alarms, which are the most common. Ionization alarms are prone to trigger with high heat and small amounts of smoke because of their technology to effectively sense smaller, fast burning fires. Photoelectric alarms use light sensor technology to detect smoke particles with the reflection of mirrors and light inside the alarm chamber. These smoke alarms contain no radioactive materials either, making them safer to dispose of. The difference between both alarms, is an ionization alarm will respond to fast burning fires and a fire with a larger flame. Photoelectric alarms will respond better to slower burning and smoldering fires. You will require an electrician install and replace hardwired alarms. Then there is an option of 9V battery alarm. These are the cheapest option when it comes to smoke alarms. They can be easily installed and only require a 9V alkaline battery to operate. They still have a ten year life span, but it is important to remember the batteries in these alarms need to be changed every 12 months.
If my smoke alarm has a flashing red light does this mean its not working?
Many people assume that the red light signals the alarm is not working. This is not the case. All smoke alarms will have a small red light that flashes intermittently. This simply means that the smoke alarm is working. Hardwired smoke alarms will also have a green light that stays on all the time. This means they are connected to the main power supply.
Why will a smoke alarm beep if there is no fire?
The most common reason for a smoke alarm to start beeping is the presents of dust inside the alarm chamber or cover. Small bugs or moths can also be attracted to the internal sensor light inside the chamber and fly in. Another reason is if the battery on the alarm is not working, the smoke alarm will chirp to notify you the battery needs to be changed.
How do I stop the smoke alarm beeping if there is no fire?

If you dust and clean the smoke alarm every six months by wiping it down with a dry cloth or use the small nozzle on the vacuum this will lessen the chance of it beeping from dust particles. You can silence the alarm by pressing the hush/ test button.

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