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Frequently Asked Questions

Who does the new legislation affect?
The new legislation only affects class 1a buildings (e.g. houses/townhouses) and class 2 buildings (e.g. units/apartments). It does not include short term stay dwellings such as motels, dormitories, caravans or other buildings. These other buildings are covered by the requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC).
Does this affect me if I am building my house or unit now?
Dwellings constructed pre 1997 may have battery operated smoke alarms. Dwellings constructed after 2014 are required to have their smoke alarms interconnected to each other.
Do I have to change anything now?
  • If the smoke alarms are older than 10-years or if they fail to operate when tested they must be replaced.
  • If they are replaced they must be replaced with AS3786-2014 compliant photoelectric smoke alarms and powered by what is currently there (i.e. if they are powered by 240-volt they must be replaced with 240-volt smoke detectors, otherwise they can be powered by 10 year non-removable batteries)
  • All smoke alarms that are required by legislation, when necessary, must be replaced with Australian Standard 3786–2014 compliant smoke alarms.
When do I need to install more smoke alarms and interconnect them?

From 1 January 2022 for dwellings being leased, re-leased or sold.

From 1 January 2027 for all other dwellings.

The smoke alarms installed after these dates will be required to be powered by either hard-wired 240-volt or 10-year non-removable 10 year battery and be interconnected by either wired or wirelessly to all other required smoke alarms in the dwelling.  All smoke alarms that are required by legislation must be AS3786–2014 compliant smoke alarms. 

Where will smoke alarms need to be installed?

From 1 January 2022 for dwellings being leased, released or sold or 1 January 2027 for all other dwellings

Smoke alarms must be installed on each storey:

  • in each bedroom; and
  • in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling; or
  • if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey; and
  • 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.

    Additional information is available in the Smoke Alarm Installation Fact Sheet.  (PDF 548KB)

Where do smoke alarms need to be installed in a room?

While the centre of the room is the preferred location for smoke alarms, this is not a requirement. On the ceiling and they must be 300mm from corners or lights and 400mm from anything that may blow air such as an air conditioner or the edge of the blade of a ceiling fan. There are special requirements for sloping ceilings and ceilings with exposed beams.

Can I still use battery operated smoke alarms?
  • All new constructions and major renovations require hardwired 240-volt smoke alarms. 
  • An existing dwelling with 240-volt smoke alarms must replace them when required with 240-volt photoelectric type smoke alarms.
  • An existing dwelling with battery operated smoke alarms may replace them when required with battery operated photoelectric type smoke alarms that meet the Australian Standard 3786–2014.
  • From 1 January 2022 for dwellings being leased/released or sold, or 1 January 2027 for all other dwellings, all battery operated smoke alarms must be 10-year non-removable battery smoke alarms.
What does interconnected mean?

This means that if one smoke alarm detects smoke, they all sound. Interconnected smoke alarms are connected to other smoke alarms in the dwelling either directly or wirelessly.

Will I have to run new wiring in my home to interconnect the smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms can be interconnected any way that allows all smoke alarms to sound when one is in alarm (i.e. when one activates they all sound). This can be done by physically wiring together or using wireless technology (or a combination of both). Wireless technology is available for both 240-volt and battery operated smoke alarms.

What can I do if I have concerns about a smoke alarm business or their trading practices?

If you have any concerns about a business or traders smoke alarm service or suspect they have provided false and/or misleading information about smoke alarms, visit the consumer rights and complaints website to understand your rights. Complaints can also be reported to the Office of Fair Trading through the consumer rights and complaints website.

Who do I get to install my smoke alarms?

240-volt smoke alarms connect to the electricity supply and must be connected by a licenced electrician.

What are the smoke alarm installation responsibilities of a landlord and tenant in a rental property?

The landlord is responsible for the installation of smoke alarms that comply with legislation.

Additional information on installation is available in the Smoke Alarm Installation Fact Sheet. (PDF 548KB)

Who is responsible in a rental property to clean and test the smoke alarms?

Within 30 days before the start of a tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the lessor/landlord must test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling. During a tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the tenant must test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling, at least once every 12 months.

A renewal or extension of an existing tenancy agreement is also deemed to be the start of a new tenancy agreement.

For example if the tenant stayed for 6 months and another tenant moved in the lessor would need to test and clean the smoke alarms within 30 days prior to the new lease starting. Even if the tenant only stayed for 2 months the lessor would still need to test and clean prior to the new lease taking affect.

Test has a definition in the legislation and it is by pressing the ‘test’ button or as stated in the manufacturer’s instructions.

Clean also has a definition in the legislation and that is “in the way stated in the manufacturer’s instructions”, which is normally vacuuming. 

Do you need to be qualified or licenced to test and clean smoke alarms?

No – There is no legal requirement for any qualification or certification to test or clean a domestic smoke alarm.

Some real estate agents may outsource smoke alarm maintenance to another company with associated fees paid by the landlord.  The real estate may request a “certificate of compliance” from these companies as proof of service. This is not a legal requirement but may be part of the real estate agent’s internal process. 

Does the smoke alarm have to be to a particular Australian Standard?

All smoke alarms that are required to be installed or replaced by the legislation must be a photoelectric type smoke alarm that complies with Australian Standard 3786–2014.

How do I know if a smoke alarm meets Australian Standard 3786–2014?

Australian Standard 3786–2014 requires the smoke alarm to have “AS3786–2014” on it.

Does the domestic smoke alarm legislation apply to a motel?

The new domestic smoke alarm legislation only applies to domestic dwellings (e.g. houses, townhouses, apartments, units).  It does not apply to motel buildings.

Can the domestic smoke alarm legislation be enforced?

Yes.  The regulatory authority of the domestic smoke alarm legislation in Queensland is the Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 and the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008.

However, the domestic smoke alarm legislation was introduced to provide early occupant warning to all occupants of a dwelling in the event of a fire. This early warning combined with a practised fire escape plan ensures all occupants can safely exit.

Why should I replace my ionisation smoke alarm now, when it is still functioning well?

Ionisation smoke alarms may not operate in time to alert you early enough to escape a smouldering fire. Smouldering fires are the major cause of fatalities in house fires.

Who do I get to install my smoke alarms?

Avoid unscrupulous traders

Unscrupulous traders may try to take advantage of the new requirements for smoke alarms. They might:

    • try to sell you non-compliant smoke alarms

    • say incorrect things about the law to get you to buy more expensive smoke alarms, or tell you the law says you have to have more smoke alarms installed than you really need.

It is illegal for a business or trader to sell you something that is false or misleading. You should also double-check any information passed on to you by your real estate agent or body corporate manager.

There are extra rules for door-to-door and telephone sales. Find out more about buying smoke alarms by visiting the Consumer rights, complaints and scams website.

What causes false activations of smoke alarms

If hardwired interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms are activating and there is no identifiable cause for the activation (eg. dust), the issue could be related to either the power supply or incorrect installation. Hardwired smoke alarms refer to devices which are connected to the household 240 volt supply.

(There are a number of reasons for false activations originating from battery operated alarms such has maintenance i.e. dirt trapped in the alarm, age of the device or a faulty device.)

In some regional or remote areas in Queensland, fluctuations in the power supply travelling to your house or from electrical/electronic equipment in your home may cause false activations of hardwired smoke alarms. This is also known as ‘dirty power’ and solar energy may also cause these fluctuations in power supply. To overcome this problem, a filter can be installed on the switchboard to reduce the impact of these fluctuations in power supply.

Incorrect installation of smoke alarms can also cause false activations of hardwired interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms. Manufacturers have specific instructions which must be followed when installing interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should not be connected to lighting circuits with dimmers as this will cause false activations.

To reduce the instance of false activations, homeowners should discuss the installation of hardwired (240v) smoke alarms with a licensed electrician who can provide advice and solutions.