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Smoke Detectors



Smoke alarms save lives. Without them in your home, your risk of death from a house fire is up to 3 times higher. In Queensland, about three-quarters of all home fire deaths happen in homes without smoke alarms — nearly half of all house fire deaths occur when people are sleeping.


Smoke alarm laws


By law, all homes and units in Queensland must be fitted with smoke alarms. It is your responsibility to make sure you have a working smoke alarm installed.


Your obligations


Homes built before 1 July 1997 must have at least one 9-volt battery-operated smoke alarm

Homes built or significantly renovated after 1 July 1997 must have a 240-volt (hard-wired) smoke alarm.


Choosing a smoke alarm


Queensland Fire and Emergency Services recommends all homes are fitted with photoelectric smoke alarms (not ionisation types).


Photoelectric smoke alarms


Photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more effective than ionisation types because they 'see' the smoke by detecting visible particles of combustion. For this reason they are good at detecting smouldering fires and dense smoke, and are not as prone to false alarms (from cooking etc.).


There are two kinds of photoelectric smoke alarms:


  • 240-volt smoke alarms (also called 'hard-wired smoke alarms'). These are connected to the house electrical system and have a battery back-up power supply

  • 9-volt smoke alarms (also called 'battery-operated smoke alarms') are stand-alone battery operated alarms.


When choosing a smoke alarm, make sure it:


  • complies with the Australian Standard AS 3786-1993

  • has the Standards Australia Mark or is Scientific Services Laboratory (SSL) certified.



Installing and positioning smoke alarms


Smoke rises — try to place smoke alarms on the ceiling. If this is not possible, alarms may be placed high on a wall, according to the manufacturer's instructions.



By law, a smoke alarm must be installed on or near the ceiling in a hallway or area close to bedrooms and the rest of the house (in a multi-storey house, a smoke alarm must be installed on each level). Anyone who sleeps with their door closed should have a smoke alarm installed in their bedroom.


Don't install alarms:


  • near windows, doors, fans or air conditioners (air movement may prevent smoke and gases from reaching the smoke alarm or cause false alarms)

  • in or just outside the bathroom (steam can cause false alarms)

  • closer than 1.5 metres to fluorescent lights (electrical 'noise' or flicker may affect the smoke alarm)

  • in kitchens (cooking steam and smoke can cause false alarms)

  • anywhere with lots of insects (insects flying into the alarm can cause false alarms).


The number of smoke alarms you need depends on the size of your home. For further advice on selecting , placing and maintaining smoke alarms, contact us.



Maintaining and replacing smoke alarms


Check the battery once a month by pressing the test button. If you cannot reach the button easily, use a broom handle

Keep smoke alarms clean. Dust can interfere with their operation

Replace the batteries at least once a year. In most models when batteries are low, the detector will sound a short 'beep' every minute or so to remind you to replace the batteries

Never paint smoke alarms

Do not disable the alarm if cooking smoke or steam sets it off, instead turn on a fan or open a window to clear the air

Do not remove the batteries from your smoke alarm

Replace smoke alarms before the expiry date on the manufacturer's warranty.



Photo Electric Smoke Detector

Ionisation Detector

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