Tag: Australian Standard 3786:2014

A new Australian Standard for smoke alarms, Australian Standard 3786:2023, was published by the Standards Australia Committee on February 17, 2023. This standard supersedes the previous version, Australian Standard 3786:2014.

It is common for Australian Standards to undergo updates, amendments, and supersessions over time. Australian Standard 3786, first released in 1990, has undergone at least 10 updates and reissues since its inception.

Several reasons led to the issuance of the new Australian Standard 3786:2023:

-Technological advancements: The standard needed to incorporate emerging smoke alarm technologies and evolving existing technologies. This ensures the standard remains relevant and reflects the current technology available in the market. For example, the new standard now includes provisions for WiFi smoke alarms, interconnected smoke alarms, and dual sensor smoke alarms that combine a carbon monoxide detector.

-Safety considerations: Safety is a crucial aspect of the standard. As new fire risks are identified and existing ones are better understood, the standard has been updated to address these concerns. Clearer guidelines for the safe usage of smoke alarms and associated testing protocols have been provided.

-International harmonization: In a globalized world, aligning standards across different countries and regions is essential for interoperability and mutual recognition of products. Australian Standard 3786:2023 is now aligned with the International Standard ISO 12239:2021 for smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light, or ionization.

-Feedback and continuous improvement: The development of Australian Standard 3786:2023 involved an iterative process that considered feedback from users, stakeholders, and experts. Committee members included the National Fire Industries Association, Australian Building Codes Board, Property Council of Australia, CSIRO, and the Fire Protection Association Australia.

The new Australian Standard 3786:2023 introduces several key changes compared to the old Australian Standard 3786:2014:

– Recognition of combination and multi-criteria smoke alarms, which provide multiple fire sensors within a single housing.
– Permission for the inclusion of a sensor unrelated to smoke detection, such as a carbon monoxide sensor, to create a dual carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm product.
– Introduction of new requirements for mains-powered smoke alarms, temporary disablement facility, smoke alarms using radio frequency links, and assessment for wall-mounted smoke alarms.

Do I need to replace my smoke alarms which are compliant to Australian Standard 3786:2014, with new smoke alarms which are compliant to Australian Standard 3786:2023?

If you currently have smoke alarms compliant with Australian Standard 3786:2014, you are not required to replace them solely because of the release of Australian Standard 3786:2023. Compliance with a specific Australian Standard only becomes a legal requirement when it is referenced in legislation by the Australian government or other regulatory agency. At the time of writing this article, fire safety legislation in Queensland and the National Construction Code 2022 still reference Australian Standard 3786:2014. Therefore, legal compliance remains unchanged, and you should continue to comply with Australian Standard 3786:2014. It’s important to note that regardless of changes to the standard, smoke alarms should be replaced if they fail to operate or are older than 10 years from the manufacture date. For replacement, interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms are recommended.

We love talking about smoke alarms! Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.

www.wireless-interconnected-photoelectric-smoke-alarms-australia.com

Interconnected smoke alarms

and Australian Standard 3786:2014

Before buying a smoke alarm you should do your due diligence to ensure it is compliant to Australian Standard 3786:2014. The full name of the standard which encompasses smoke alarms in Australia is ‘Australian Standard 3786:2014 Smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light or ionization’ (incorporating amendment 1 and 2). This article will review Australian Standard 3786:2014 to assist your purchasing decision.

Standards are documents that set out specifications, procedures and guidelines to ensure products are safe, consistent, and reliable. Australian Standard 3786:2014 is referenced by QLD’s Building Fire Safety Regulations 2008 – when a standard is referenced by state or national legislation, compliance with it becomes mandatory. It is interesting to note that although there is a newer Australian Standard 3786:2023 – it is not yet referenced by legislation – therefore Australian Standard 3786:2014 must still be complied with in the eyes of the law.

Australian Standard 3786:2023

Australian Standard 3786:2014 is divided into several key components – the areaof interest that will be reviewed today is section 4.17 – ‘general requirements’.

Section 4.17 of the Australian Standard states that; ‘The smoke alarm shall be so designed that a sphere of diameter larger than 1.3 ±0.05 mm cannot pass into the sensor chamber(s)’. This requirement is intended to restrict the access of foreign bodies such as insects into the sensitive parts of the smoke alarm (to prevent nuisance alarms). It is known that this requirement is not sufficient to prevent the access of all insects; however, it is considered that extreme restrictions on the size of the access holes may introduce the danger of clogging by dust, etc.

How does this requirement translate into the design and manufacture of your photoelectric smoke alarm? The image below shows the compliant internal component from our ZEN wireless interconnected photoelectric smoke alarm. The polymer mesh surrounding the sensitive photoelectric chamber within the alarm contains thousands of tiny holes, each perfectly engineered, no larger than 1.3mm in diameter. The tiny holes prevent insects from accessing the internal chamber whilst still allowing air (and smoke) to pass through.

Mesh screen surrounding the photoelectric smoke alarm internal sensor chamber

As per Australian Standard 3786:2014 – holes must be no larger than 1.3mm diameter

In addition to this internal mesh screen around the perimeter of the photoelectric chamber, ZEN wireless interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms also have an external housing which forms part of the of the smoke alarm itself. The external housing prevents larger foreign bodies from entering the alarm itself. Foreign bodies (i.e., insects, small house geckos) are a common cause of false / nuisance alarms because they can enter the sensitive internal components and disrupt the photoelectric light beam.

We hope you have enjoyed this review of section 4.17 of Australian Standard 3786:2014, and how it translates to the design of your photoelectric smoke alarm. Whilst many smoke alarm retailers might profess to be aware of the standard, very few can claim to have read it from cover to cover or have a genuine understanding of what it means.

Want to know more? Watch our ZEN quick-start video or call us on 0478 596 402

We love talking smoke alarms!

ZEN Interconnected Smoke Alarms

Australian Standard 3786:2014 – Smoke Alarms Using

Scattered Light, Transmitted Light or Ionization

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.

Required information to be printed on smoke alarms

Have a look at the photoelectric smoke alarm on your ceiling to double check if it has the following information.

4.22 Markings

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

number.

(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

alarm.

ZEN smoke alarm with required markings as per Australian Standard 3786:2014

Smoke alarms with 10-year non-replaceable battery

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.

ZEN smoke alarm with 10-year battery and markings as per Australian Standard 3786:2014

Smoke alarm ‘DO NOT PAINT’ marking

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 – 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.

ZEN smoke alarm with required ‘DO NOT PAINT’ marking

Smoke alarm point of sale packaging – essential info

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.

4.22.2 Packaging

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.

ZEN smoke alarm packaging with required information as per Australian Standard 3786:2014

Summary

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.

Want to know more? Watch our ZEN quick-start video or call us on 0478 596 402

We love talking smoke alarms!

ZEN Interconnected Smoke Alarms