There are three important differences between our wireless interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms and conventional smoke alarms.
1) Our smoke alarms are photoelectric (not ionisation). Older conventional smoke alarms use radioactive ionisation as the process by which they detect smoke particles in the air. Ionisation smoke alarms are good at detecting smoke from flaming fires, but are less adept at detecting smoke from smouldering flames which is common of most house fires. Ionisation alarms have also been known to cause frustrating nuisance alarms, which might condition people to switch them off, putting themselves at risk. For these reasons the older style ionisation smoke alarms are being phased out both in Australia and internationally.
2) Older smoke alarms typically operated as stand-alone units. If a smoke alarm sensed smoke on the ground floor of a building – yes it may activate, but any other smoke alarms on the upper floors would not activate until smoke had entered the same air space – by this time it could be too late to initiate an effective response (or escape). Our smoke alarms are wirelessly ‘interconnected’ together – so if one alarm detects smoke anywhere within a building, then all smoke alarms paired within the same network will simultaneously initiate their alarm. This can provide increased early warning and response time for residents.
3) Our smoke alarms have a sealed 10 year life lithium battery. Conventional smoke alarms are usually powered by a 9v replaceable battery. When the battery life becomes drained over time the smoke alarm begins to emit a loud intermittent ‘chirp’ noise. The chirp serves as a noisy (and annoying) reminder to replace the battery, and continues until the battery is replaced. As seen in the past, residents can remove the battery, disabling the chirping noise and the alarm itself, often with tragic consequences. Because our smoke alarms are powered by a long life 10-year lithium battery which is sealed inside the unit, the battery cannot be deliberately removed. At the end of the 10-year battery life span, the entire smoke alarm unit is simply replaced with a new one! Don’t risk your life or that of your loved ones – whatever smoke alarm you have in your home please check to ensure it is; interconnectable, photoelectric and contains a sealed 10 year long life battery (or hard wired).
All smoke alarms sold within Australia must comply to Australian Standard 3786:2014.
Section 4.22.1 of the Australian Standard describes the markings and types of information included on the smoke alarm itself. If the smoke alarm does not have all this information on it – then technically it is non-compliant to the standard.
Have a look at the photoelectric smoke alarm on your ceiling to double check if it has the following information.
4.22.1 Smoke alarm
Each smoke alarm shall be legibly and indelibly marked with the following:
(a) The number and date of this Standard (i.e. AS 3786:2014).
(b) The name or trademark and address of the manufacturer or supplier.
(c) The model designation (type or number).
(d) The type of smoke alarm (type A or type B), e.g. photoelectric or ionization.
(e) The alarm condition aural signal pattern (ISO 8201 or ISO 7731).
(f) The date of manufacture which may be coded into a serial number or the batch
(g) The recommended date for replacement, subject to normal, regular maintenance
NOTE: Provision may be made for a place to note the date for replacement of the smoke
For smoke alarms incorporating non-replaceable batteries (i.e. 10 year lithium long life batteries sealed inside the unit), the following warning is also required:
WARNING: BATTERY NOT REPLACEABLE—SEE INSTRUCTION MANUAL.
Additionally, a notice on the outer surface of the enclosure marked ‘DO NOT PAINT’ is required. The letters shall be not less than 3 mm high and plainly visible after the smoke alarm is installed in its intended manner. Be wary of many cheap ‘knock off’ smoke alarms sold in online marketplaces such as e-bay and Amazon – they do not have all this required information even though they profess to comply to the Australian Standard. Whilst it may seem trivial whether the smoke alarm has this information on it or not, in the event of a house fire and subsequent insurance claim, your insurer could be double checking this same information prior to making any potential pay-out.
Section 4.22.2 of the Australian Standard identifies the information and data which must be incorporated into the smoke alarm’s point of sale packaging (i.e. the box it comes in) and also within the user manual. As before, if the information below is not included then technically the smoke alarm is non-compliant to the standard.
The point-of-sale packaging shall be marked with the following:
(a) The model designation (type or number).
(b) The type of smoke alarm (type A or type B) and an explanation of the meaning of the type designation (e.g. photoelectric or ionization).
(c) The nominal sound level output.
(d) The alarm condition aural signal pattern (ISO 8201 or ISO 7731).
(e) For smoke alarms using 520 Hz alarm condition signal frequency, the nominal frequency.
(f) For type B smoke alarms, permanently marked with the trefoil symbol, and name of
radionuclide and activity. The markings shall be visible from the outside of the packaging.
(g) The maximum number of interconnectable smoke alarms.
(h) Statement if the smoke alarm is suitable for wall (vertical) mounting.
In summary, section 4.22 of the Australian Standard describes the necessary information which must be included on the alarm, packaging and in the instruction manual. It is a requirement which manufacturers and retailers must adhere to.
QLD legislation states that smoke alarms must be photoelectric, interconnected and conform to Australian Standard 3786:2014. Failure to do so could have implications in the event of any insurance pay-out following a house fire.
Copyright for Australian Standard 3786:2014 remains with SAI Global.
Nothing is more annoying than a smoke alarm going off for no reason (especially at 3am in the morning!). But why is your smoke alarm beeping without smoke being physically present? There could be several reasons for false alarms. The good news is that you don’t have to go on living this way – our wireless interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms provide reliable and trustworthy protection for you and your family.
The basic operating principal of a photoelectric smoke alarm is that it activates when the light beam inside the smoke alarm chamber is broken or disrupted – typically by tiny smoke particles. However these foreign particles can also come from sources other than real smoke – below are some of the most common examples and how to rectify them.
High humidity can occur naturally as the air carries dense moisture particles that your smoke alarm confuses for smoke particles. Although brands can differ, smoke alarms should be designed to work up to 93% relative humidity (RH) as per the Australian Standard 3786:2014 – however anything over 85% RH range and air could potentially become dense enough to scatter the light beam of a photelectric sensor. Extreme tropical weather conditions in the Northern Territory and far north Queensland can sometimes produce these high humidity conditions.
High humidity can also be artificially created by steam from a bathroom shower or the clothes dryer running inside a laundry room. If your smoke alarm is positioned outside a bathroom entrance or inside the laundry, consider moving it further away or out of that room altogether so that escaping shower steam and humid air doesn’t trigger a false alarm and start your smoke alarm beeping and going off for no reason.
A build-up of dust in the air can also affect your smoke alarm. If dust particles enter the internal chamber they will interfere with the photoelectric light beam and trigger nuisance alarms. We recommend cleaning your smoke alarms regularly by gently vacuuming around them with a soft brush attachment from your vacuum cleaner. Cleaning smoke alarms in this way may remove any cobwebs which could also prevent pests from entering the alarm. Be aware of any activities in the home which may create excess dust – for example renovations or shaking out old dusty blankets or doonas in a room which has a smoke detector installed.
Section 4.17 of Australian Standard 3786:2014 requires smoke alarms to have protection against foreign bodies, so that a sphere of diameter larger than 1.3mm cannot pass into the sensor chamber – this protection is provided by way of an internal mesh screen. Despite this requirement it is still possible that very tiny insects (smaller than 1.3mm) could enter the smoke alarm and by doing so interfere with the photoelectric sensor. One tip to reduce this likelihood is to wipe the ceiling perimeter around your smoke alarm with surface insect spray (be sure not to allow the insect spray itself to enter the alarm as this could affect its sensors which, you guessed it, could create false alarming).
It is true that whilst many house fires start in the kitchen, installing an alarm in the kitchen can induce frequent nuisance alarms. Irrespective of what smoke alarm brand you have, if it is installed too close to the kitchen stovetop or oven it will activate and start beeping when smoke particles are emitted from the food cooking process (after all, the smoke alarm is doing what it is designed to do). When cooking, always be sure to switch on the rangehood or oven exhaust fan to draw smoky air particles away from your smoke alarm. If the problem continues, try repositioning the fire alarm further away from the cooking appliance.
Beeping smoke alarms that are going off for no apparent reason can be both frustrating and stressful. Worse, an ongoing beeping smoke alarm may generate a ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect, reducing home occupants reaction to a real life fire event.
Fortunately, our wireless interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms undergo strict quality control measures and are manufactured in adherence to Australian Standard 3786:2014, independently tested and by the CSIRO which means may reduce the likelihood for nuisance alarms. Using the tips outlined above and below, your interconnected smoke alarms will provide many years of stress-free and reliable fire protection for you and your loved ones.
Want to know more about the potential causes of beeping smoke alarms and why they may start going off for no reason? Please refer to our helpful Red smoke alarms diagnostic checklist below!
As the name suggests, heat alarms (also called heat detectors) are designed to emit a visual and audible alarm when a change is detected in the ambient room temperature. Our Red heat alarms will activate when the temperature reaches and exceeds 55°C due to a fire.
Which is better – smoke alarm or heat alarm?
We recommend installing heat alarms in your home to compliment an existing interconnected smoke alarm system (not as a substitute for it). The main benefit of a heat alarm is that they are not susceptible to dust, cooking smoke, humidity or other fumes which are often the cause of nuisance alarms in a conventional photoelectric smoke alarm. For this reason, it may be beneficial to install a heat alarm in kitchens (cooking smoke), garages (car exhaust fumes), laundry rooms (humidity), cellars or attics (dust) where these external environmental conditions could trigger false alarming.
Can the heat alarms be interconnected too?
Yes, our Red heat alarms are designed to be interconnected with up to 40 other Red heat/smoke alarms, so if one heat alarm activates it will automatically trigger all the other interconnected heat alarms and/or smoke alarms within the same group. There are two type of heat alarms that we sell – the fully wireless Red heat alarm model RFA10RF. This heat alarm is powered by a 10 year long life lithium battery and can be interconnected wirelessly with other Red smoke alarms and heat alarms. The other heat alarm is the Red heat alarm model RHA240SL. This heat alarm is wired into 240v AC mains power and incorporates a back-up rechargeable lithium battery (in case household mains power is temporary lost). This heat alarm can also be wirelessly interconnected with other Red heat alarms and/or smoke alarms with the addition of the Red wireless module model RHARFM (sold separately).
Are your heat alarms suitable for compliance with the NSW Short Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) Fire Safety Standard?
What the above passage means is that if there is a private locked garage on the same premises as the short term rental accommodation, then a heat alarm must be installed in that private garage (even if the garage is not accessible to the guest) . The heat alarm in the garage must interconnected with smoke alarms in the dwelling. The interconnection can be either hardwired, or wireless.
Our Red heat alarms are fully compliant to Australian Standard 1603.3:2018 Automatic fire detection and alarm systems Heat alarms and are suitable for the NSW Short Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) Fire Safety Standard.
Ever wondered how to physically attach a smoke a detector onto your ceiling? Click here to watch this short video – it demonstrates how simple it really is! A major advantage of wireless lithium battery powered smoke alarms is that there is no hardwiring involved – this means they can be legally installed by property owners without requiring an electrician.
Checklist of what’s needed:
Drill with 5mm drill bit
Screws and anchor plugs x 2 (included with our smoke alarms)
Smoke alarm and its mounting bracket
STEP 1: Twist the mounting bracket to remove it from the back of the smoke detector.
STEP 2: Locate the mounting bracket in your chosen position on the ceiling. Use a pencil to mark the location of the two mounting bracket slots on the ceiling as per above.
Important – refer to general guidance at the end of this article about where best to locate your smoke detector so that it is compliant with legislation.
STEP 3: Use a 5mm drill bit to drill a pilot hole at each location marked on the ceiling. Now insert the anchor plugs and use the two screws to attach the mounting bracket to the chosen position.
Don’t over-tighten the screws as this may slightly distort the shape of the plastic mounting bracket (and prevent the smoke alarm from being able to ‘lock’ into it).
STEP 4: Attach the smoke alarm to the mounting bracket and firmly turn clockwise to lock it into place. By attaching the smoke alarm to the mounting bracket, the on/off switch is engaged and the alarm will become powered on (if it has not been switched on manually already).
STEP 5: Press the test button to ensure you smoke alarm is working properly. If you have more than one interconnected smoke detector, then the others in the same group should also activate within approximately 10-15 seconds (this is normal). Allow all the smoke alarms to finish their full test cycle without pressing the hush button – they will all stop automatically after approximately 10-15 seconds.
Where should I install interconnected smoke detectors?
As general guidance, smoke detectors in Queensland should be placed inside every bedroom, interconnecting hallway outside the bedrooms, and on every level of a multi-story dwelling. Additionally, smoke detectors should not be installed within 30cm from the edge of a wall, within 30cm from a light fixture, 40cm from an air conditioner vent and also not within 40cm from a ceiling fan blade. It is preferable to install smoke detectors on the ceiling, as opposed to the wall (refer to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services for more information).
Safety note – Prior to undertaking any home maintenance, it is a good idea to have suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) available, for example safety glasses when operating a drill. If using a ladder to reach the ceiling it also helps to have someone hold the ladder steady whilst you are standing on it. 240v smoke detectors which are hardwired to mains power (i.e. not the lithium battery ones as described in this article) should always be installed by a qualified electrician. Don’t forget – if replacing a 240v hardwired smoke detector in Queensland it must be replaced with a 240v hardwired smoke detector.
Want to know more? Have a look at our shop page – we absolutely love smoke alarms!
On 1st January 2022 new laws outlined in the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 came into effect. These new laws place extra duties upon Queensland property sellers to ensure that;
Interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms (not also containing an ionisation sensor) have been installed on every level and in every bedroom and interconnecting hallways outside the bedrooms
Be hardwired to the mains power supply, if currently hardwired, or powered by a non-removeable 10-year lithium battery
Comply with Australian Standard 3786:2014, be less than 10 years old, and function when tested
Disclosure obligations and smoke alarm compliance
If you are selling a residential property in QLD you are required by law to disclose certain information to the buyer before they enter into a contract – the two main documents where this information is captured are;
the contract of sale
the ‘Form 24’ (Transfer of Title)
Contract of Sale
The standard contract of sale in Queensland contains a section that the seller is required to complete prior to the buyer signing the contract, stating whether the property is fitted with compliant smoke alarms. When preparing a property for sale, these smoke alarm requirements must be met before a property can settle.
As a seller you cannot contract out of this obligation and must comply with the minimum smoke alarm requirements. Failure to install compliant smoke alarms is an offence (even if it has been disclosed) and the seller may be subject to a fine (a seller can still be fined for committing an offence after the property has been sold). As such, it is recommended that QLD sellers ensure compliant interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms are installed at their cost prior to settlement.
When a property is sold, the vendor must also lodge a Form 24 (Transfer of Title) with Titles Queensland (formerly called the Queensland Land Registry Office), stating that the above requirements of the smoke alarm legislation have been met, and that the purchaser is aware of the fact. The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) can subsequently access the property specific smoke alarm information contained within the Form 24.
Smoke alarm compliance certificate when selling in QLD?
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) is Queensland’s peak professional body for the real estate industry. On their website they clarify a few points in relation to smoke alarm compliance certificates when selling, and this is what they state;
Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer. Information provided is general in nature and should not be construed as expert legal advice. You should always seek the assistance of an independent legal professional when selling or purchasing a property.
Australians are renowned for their love of the great outdoors – from senior Grey Nomads to the younger #vanlife movement, Aussies are camping and caravanning in greater numbers than ever before. No doubt you’ve thoroughly researched your road trip, loaded up all the necessities, and packed the recreational gear, but have you checked how safe your caravan or campervan actually is?
Fire safety is crucial in a campervan as most usually have only one escape route in the event of a fire. As modern vans and motorhomes are made of lightweight and highly combustible materials you may have only a few seconds to escape a burning caravan. Fires can accelerate rapidly, therefore receiving a warning from a photoelectric smoke detector may mean the difference between life and death.
How many smoke alarms do I need and where do I put them?
It is recommended that you have at least one working photoelectric smoke alarm inside the van where the bed is, and one also in the annex if you sleep there – the image below provides a handy visual guide. As per Australian Standard 3786:2014, the smoke alarm(s) should also have an integrated ‘hush’ button which allows it to be temporarily silenced, should the alarm be activated accidentally due to cooking smoke etc.
Am I required by law to install a smoke alarm in my campervan?
You should be aware that there is different smoke alarm legislation in every Australian state. In NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory, regardless of where your campervan is registered, it must be fitted with a smoke alarm by law. If you are visiting South Australia and you are on-site for 60 days or longer then a smoke alarm is required by law. In all other states fire authorities strongly recommended you install a smoke alarm, however it is not mandated by legislation. Some states also offer penalties for non-compliance. i.e. in NSW this may include on the spot fines of $200, and up to $550 if the matter goes to court. Note the definition of ‘campervan’ is quite broad and also includes the following; caravans, on-site vans, park vans, annexes (with rigid sides), mobile homes, and any other type of transportable structure where people sleep.
Recent news has further highlighted the lack of mandated alarms in Australian caravans, and fatalities due to caravan fires unfortunately occur annually. Don’t allow yourself to become a statistic – the short video below contains some great caravan fire safety advice from QLD Fire and Emergency Services (QFES).
Caravan fire safety tips!
Keep your cylinders outside the caravan
Ensure that your cylinders in the caravan are safely maintained. Ensure that your gas cylinders are always placed outside the van and switched to the off position when not in use.
To avoid gas leaks and subsequent fire hazards, ensure that your empty cylinders are stored in an open space and locked with a strap or something similarly sturdy. Be sure to check all gas fittings and hose connections prior to each road trip as they may work free due to extended vibration when travelling.
Ensure that you check the health of all your caravan appliances, particularly high-load equipment by having them certified periodically by an electrician. Do not overload power leads, and protect them from exposure to natural elements such as rain ingress.
Avoid parking in grassy areas
When parking your caravan, avoid camp sites that have tall grass as these can easily catch fire. The same applies to parking spots with spinifex growth as the same is a fire hazard. Search instead for a cleared area.
Cooking while moving is prohibited as it is one of the major causes of fire. In addition, never leave the stove unattended when cooking inside the van. Setting up BBQ too close to the campervan itself might scatter embers or increase radiant heat levels, which could cause the awning fabric to catch fire. It is good practice to always maintain a minimum 5m distance from the caravan when cooking outside to prevent caravan fires and potential carbon monoxide poisoning.
Have fire extinguishers handy
Second only to a smoke alarm, the next most important item to prevent fire from spreading is a dry chemical powder (DCP) fire extinguisher. Make sure your extinguisher is effective at all times by ensuring it remains fully charged and is within its use by shelf life. Fire extinguishers should be available at an accessible location, typically adjacent to the exit route of the van.
To contain a small campervan fire (i.e. on the stove top), a fire blanket may suffice. Fire blankets are made of fire resistant material. Select a fire blanket that can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees celcius. Place the fire blanket next to your exit door. As most fire blankets have no date of expiry, they are considered durable by full-time caravanners. Do not wait until a fire occurs before opening the fire blanket for the first time – practice beforehand so you are familiar with it, and learn the correct technique to place it over a small fire without burning yourself in the process.
Complete this fire safety checklist before embarking on your next road trip adventure
Does your campervan / caravan have a working photoelectric smoke alarm, fire extinguisher and a fire blanket located near the exit?
Do you have an escape plan pre-prepared in case of fire? Ensure escape routes remain unobstructed.
Check that LPG cylinders are secured correctly to the van and that all fittings and hoses are in good working order with no leaks.
Have all electrical appliances been test and tagged by a qualified electrician?
Ensure you turn off any pilot lights before towing or when the towing vehicle’s engine is running.
Download the free EmergencyPlus app to your mobile phone. The app uses GPS functionality built into smart phones to help a Triple Zero (000) caller provide critical location