Do you know your obligations as the owner of a new or existing home, and as a landlord or tenant, when it comes to smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms save lives. It is a legal requirement for all properties to have working smoke alarms.
The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) implemented provisions from 1 May 2017 in their building regulations that require new homes, apartments and residential buildings in Victoria to have interconnected alarms.
Residential homes constructed after 1st August 1997 or which have undergone a major renovation or extension, must have smoke alarms connected to 240-volt mains power. In addition, a back-up battery must be installed in the smoke alarm.
Residential homes constructed after 1 May 2014, or homes that have undergone a major renovation or extension, where there is a requirement for more than one smoke alarm in the home, all smoke alarms fitted must be inter-connected (so that when any alarm activates, all smoke alarms will sound).
A fine can be imposed on an owner who fails to comply with the smoke alarm requirements of the Building Regulations 2018.
As a landlord, it is your responsibility to:
- ensure smoke alarms are installed and kept in working condition
- replace smoke alarm battery on an annual basis (if the battery is lithium ion, every ten years)
- replace the entire alarm every ten years (new units have expiry date located under battery)
- replace the battery if the alarm emits a warning sound (a high-pitched single beep every 30 seconds
- clean alarms regularly to remove dust particles
- familiarise yourself with the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines.
Tenants are responsible for performing monthly checks on smoke alarms to ensure they are in good working order and advising their landlord if the battery needs to be repaired or replaced.
Where Do I Install My Smoke Alarm?
- Smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling at least 30cm from the wall.
- Smoke alarms must be between each sleeping area and the rest of the house.
- Additional smoke alarms should be inside all bedrooms.
Buying a Smoke Alarm
There are two types of smoke alarms.
Photoelectric alarms predominantly detect visible particles of combustion which can be quicker to detect smoke from slow smoldering fires. They are also less likely to false alarm.
Ionisation alarms predominantly detect particles of smoke from fast flaming fires.
Smoke alarms can be stand-alone battery operated or interconnected mains power operated with a lithium battery back-up. The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Council (AFAC) recommends smoke alarms be replaced with interconnected alarms in all sleeping areas, living spaces, paths of travel (hallways, stairways) and garages if they are under the home’s main roof.
The MFB recommends 10-year long-life lithium battery smoke alarms with a tamper proof chamber (either stand alone or connected to mains power). The lifespan of these batteries is 10 years, and there is no need to replace batteries for the lifespan of these type of smoke alarms. You simply replace the entire smoke alarm unit every ten years.
Choice Magazine has conducted a review of alarms currently available on the market.
For more information on smoke alarms and your responsibilities see the links below:
www.vba.vic.gov.au – Victorian Building Authority
www.afac.com.au – Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Country
www.cfa.vic.gov.au – Country Fire Authority
www.mfb.vic.gov.au – Metropolitan Fire Brigade
As part of a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection with The Home Inspection Hub, your inspector will check the correct location of smoke alarms and other safety measures.
All of our reports comply with Australian standard AS4349.1-2007), concerning inspections of residential dwellings.