Smoke Alarm Laws Undergo Life Saving Changes in Queensland

Posted on 27th October 2016 by Kristine Dawson
photoelectric smoke alarm

Those of you that live in Queensland and own a TV will probably remember Australia’s worst house fire. It occurred in Slacks Creek, south of Brisbane in 2011. Eleven people including eight children died when fire tore through the house they were sleeping in. They did not have a working smoke alarm.

The house was fitted with two smoke alarms but neither had worked for several years. 

New Smoke Alarm Legislation

The coroners report into the fire found that had the smoke alarms been working, lives would certainly have been saved. The Queensland Government is now acting on recommendations by the Coroner to increase the current legislation regarding smoke alarms.  

So what does this mean for you?

For Existing Houses

From January 1st 2017:

  • When replacing smoke alarms, they must be photoelectric
  • If a smoke alarm is more than 10 years old it must be replaced
  • Faulty smoke alarms must be replaced immediately 

From January 2027

  • Smoke alarms in all houses must also be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the house so they all activate together
  • Smoke alarms must be installed on every storey of the house, in every bedroom, in every hallway
  • Smoke alarms must be either hard wired or powered by a non-removable 10 year battery 

Houses being Sold or Leased 

From January 1st 2017

  • When replacing smoke alarms they must be photoelectric
  • If a smoke alarm is more than 10 years old it must be replaced
  • Faulty smoke alarms must be replaced immediately

From January 2022

  • Smoke alarms must also be interconnected and installed in each bedroom, hallway and on every storey of the house. 

New Dwellings and dwellings that are being substantially renovated 

From January 1st 2017

  • Smoke alarms must be photoelectric
  • Smoke alarms must be hardwired to the main power source with a battery back up
  • Smoke alarms must be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together
  • Smoke alarms must be installed in each bedroom, on each storey of the house and in each hallway.  

Photoelectric Smoke Alarms. What are They? Why are they so Good?

Photoelectric smoke alarms are more advanced than ionisation smoke alarms. They respond faster to most fire types because they are able to detect a smouldering fire early before the fire develops. They are also less likely to react to a false alarm.

Have you ever had the experience where you are making toast and it sets the smoke alarm off? Then you have to climb up on a chair to turn it off or pull the batteries out. The problem with this is you often forget to put the batteries back in. The old ionisation smoke alarms are very sensitive and were designed to detect hot, fast fires.

Photoelectric smoke alarms are able to detect a slow smouldering fire, such as a smouldering mattress. They are widely considered to be more advanced and superior and are recommended by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. 

Read more about photoelectric smoke alarms here. 

Why do they need to be interconnected? 

Emergency Services Minister Bill Byrne says “The evidence is overwhelming that interconnected smoke alarms and installing them in bedrooms greatly increases the chances of families escaping from fires unharmed.” 

There is no question that smoke alarms save lives. Ensure that your home is fully protected and meets the upcoming legislative requirements. Give a licensed electrician a call today.