Changes to smoke alarm legislation

1 December 2016
Susan Forrest, Partner, Brisbane

On 31 August 2016, Queensland Parliament passed the Fire and Emergency Services (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Amendment Act 2016.

This legislation was developed in the aftermath of the 2011 Slacks Creek house fire which tragically claimed 11 lives including 8 children.

Changes

All Queensland domestic dwellings will eventually be required to have smoke alarms which are:

  1. photoelectric (compliant with Australian Standard 3786); and
  2. interconnected.

The new legislation permits interconnectivity via a combination of compatible hardwired and wireless (with a 10 year battery) smoke alarm systems, except if replacing a pre-existing hardwired smoke alarm (see below).

Interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms will need to be installed on each storey and:

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

Timeframe

There is a 10-year phased roll-out of interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms in Queensland that will happen over the following specific periods.

  • From 1 January 2017:  in all new dwellings and substantially renovated dwellings (this applies to building applications submitted from 1 January 2017).
  • Also any smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old must be replaced with a photoelectric smoke alarm.
  • From 1 January 2022:  in all domestic dwellings leased and sold.
  • From 1 January 2027:  in all other domestic dwellings.

Installing or Replacing Smoke Alarms from 1 January 2017

Any new smoke alarm being installed or existing smoke alarm being replaced from 1 January 2017 must be a photoelectric-type alarm.

A smoke alarm which is hard wired to the domestic power supply must be replaced with a hard wired photoelectric smoke alarm.

Summary for Mortgagees in Possession

From 1 January 2017:

  • any new smoke alarm being installed or existing smoke alarm being replaced in an existing dwelling (that is not being substantially renovated) must be a photoelectric-type alarm.
  • any smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old must be replaced with a photoelectric smoke alarm.
  • if replacing a smoke alarm which is hard wired to the domestic power supply the replacement smoke alarm must also be hardwired.
  • if a new dwelling is being constructed or substantially renovated the smoke alarms must be photoelectric and interconnected.

From 1 January 2022:

  • all dwellings being sold must have smoke alarms that are photoelectric and interconnected.
This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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