Tag: interconnected smoke detectors

Smoke alarm regulations vary slightly across different states and territories in Australia, contributing to widespread confusion, particularly in Queensland, where a graduated implementation of new smoke alarm legislation is underway. Much misinformation exists regarding the installation of 10-year battery powered smoke alarms vs 240V hardwired smoke alarms – this article will explain when each type is permissible in QLD.

All information contained in this article is sourced directly from the QLD Government. We encourage you to view and read the legislation for yourself too – direct links to all official government sources are included at the bottom of this article for your reference.

Can I Install 10-year Battery Powered Smoke Alarms In QLD?

YES! you can. It is legal and perfectly acceptable to install 10-year battery powered smoke alarms in your Queensland home, provided you are not performing any of the 3 activities below;

  1. Constructing a new home
  2. Performing a substantial renovation
  3. Replacing an existing 240V hardwired smoke alarm

Queensland’s Building Fire Safety (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Legislation Amendment Regulation 2016 prescribes the legal ways of powering smoke alarms for domestic dwellings. It states that both 240V hardwired smoke alarms AND 10-year battery powered smoke alarms are allowed. See the excerpt below;

Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) website states that 10-year battery powered smoke alarms are acceptable, provided the three scenarios previously mentioned above are not being performed.

Advantages Of 10-Year Battery Powered Smoke Alarms

  • Wireless smoke alarms powered by a 10-year non-removeable battery can be easily DIY installed and don’t require the added expense of an electrician.
  • As the battery is sealed inside the smoke alarm (non-removeable) it lasts for the entire 10-year lifespan of the alarm and never needs to be replaced – forget about that annoying low battery chirp every year. After 10 years the whole alarm is simply swapped out for a new one.
  • Added versatility through wireless RF interconnection. In some situations it is physically impossible to install 240V hardwired alarms – i.e. where there are solid concrete ceilings or no roof cavity.

Do QLD Smoke Alarms Need To Be Hardwired By 2027?

The short answer to this question is NO, they don’t. Although there are a lot of houses built in Queensland that require hardwired smoke alarms, there are just as many that have the option to use wireless 10-year battery powered smoke alarms and still be 100% compliant.

When Must I Install a 240V Hardwired Smoke Alarm In QLD?

There are 3 situations in Queensland where it is a statutory requirement for 240V hardwired smoke alarms to be installed in a domestic dwelling (and 10-year battery powered smoke alarms may not be used). Outside of these 3 scenarios it is acceptable to install 10-year battery powered smoke alarms in your home.

1) If You Are Constructing A New Home

If you are constructing a new home in QLD then hardwired smoke alarms are required as part of the building approval process. Queensland’s Building Regulation 2021 states that when constructing a new home, the smoke alarms must be hardwired to the domestic dwelling’s electricity supply.

2) If You Are Performing A Substantial Renovation

Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 states that hardwired smoke alarms must be installed when a substantial renovation is being performed to a domestic dwelling.

3) If You Are Replacing An Existing Hardwired Smoke Alarm

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 also states that if a pre-existing smoke alarm being replaced was hardwired to the domestic dwelling’s electricity supply, then the replacement smoke alarm must be hardwired to the dwelling’s electricity supply.

Outside of the 3 scenarios described above, it is legal and perfectly acceptable in QLD to install wireless interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms which are

powered by a non-removeable 10-year battery.

Want to do some further reading? Links to all official sources in this article are provided below.

Building Fire Safety (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Legislation Amendment Regulation 2016

States that both 240V hardwired smoke alarms and 10-year battery powered smoke alarms are allowed in domestic QLD dwellings.

Building Regulation 2021

States that when constructing a new home in QLD, the smoke alarms must be hardwired to the domestic dwelling’s electricity supply.

Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990

States hardwired smoke alarms must be installed when performing a substantial renovation or replacing an existing hardwired smoke alarm.

QLD Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Website – 2027 Smoke Alarm Legislation Fact Sheet

States that smoke alarms must be either hardwired or powered by a non-removable 10 year battery, or a combination of both may be allowed.

States that existing hardwired smoke alarms that need replacement must be replaced with a hardwired smoke alarm.

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

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ZEN Interconnected Smoke Alarms

As the Queensland festive season approaches, warmer temperatures, holiday decorations and the joy of gatherings fill the air. However, amidst the celebrations, we must also consider Christmas fire safety to safeguard our homes and loved ones. Here are some essential tips to ensure a safe and merry Christmas in Queensland this year!

Careful Christmas Tree Positioning

Choose a fresh, green Christmas tree and keep it well-hydrated. Position it away from any potential heat sources. A dry Christmas tree can quickly become a fire hazard, so water it regularly and dispose of it promptly after the holidays.

Position your tree strategically – make sure it’s not blocking any exit routes. This ensures that, in the unfortunate event of a fire, everyone can easily evacuate the home.

Interconnected Smoke Alarms

Give the gift of safety and equip your home with ZEN interconnected smoke alarms inside every bedroom, hallway outside the bedrooms, and have at least one on every level of the dwelling. Press the test button on the alarms to check they are in good working order (i.e. so if one smoke alarm activates, then they all activate). Create a home fire escape plan and share it with your family and any guests who may be staying with you. Keep fire extinguishers handy, and make sure everyone knows their location and how to use them. Spending 10 minutes to review this information with your loved ones could avoid becoming a Christmas tragedy.

Check Christmas Lighting And Decorations

Inspect all Christmas lights before decorating your tree and home. Discard any frayed or damaged cords and replace burnt-out bulbs promptly. Choose LED lights, which emit less heat than traditional incandescent lights, reducing the risk of fire. Be wary of non-compliant cheap imports and ensure your lights have the appropriate Australian electrical safety regulatory compliance mark (RCM). Make it a habit to turn off all Christmas lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house. This simple step not only conserves energy but also reduces the risk of electrical malfunctions that could lead to a fire.

Ensure Christmas lighting decorations have the Australian regulatory compliance mark (RCM)

Power Board Common Sense

Avoid overloading electrical wall outlets and power boards. Spread out the use of multiple appliances and decorations across different outlets to prevent overloading and subsequent overheating. Choose a power board which has in-built overload protection.

Candle Care

Candles add a traditional warm glow to the festive atmosphere, but they can also pose a fire risk. Keep candles away from flammable materials such as window curtains, place them in stable holders, and never leave them unattended. Consider using realistic looking flameless LED candles as a safer modern alternative.

Cooking Attentiveness

The holiday season often involves elaborate meals and festive cooking. Stay vigilant in the kitchen, and never leave cooking unattended. Keep flammable items, such as kitchen tea towels and oven mitts, away from open flames and other heat sources. Keep a fire blanket nearby to help extinguish any cooking flames.

Christmas Conclusion!

By following these Christmas fire safety tips and ensuring you have ZEN interconnected smoke alarms installed in your home, you can create a secure environment for your loved ones to enjoy the Queensland holiday season without worry. Putting fire safety at the top of your Christmas list will ensure the only thing sparking during your celebrations is the joy of the season.

Merry Christmas Queensland! Thank you again for all your fantastic support throughout the year, and we look forward to more incredibly busy and exciting times ahead!

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

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ZEN Interconnected Smoke Alarms

There is no point waiting until a fire occurs before figuring out what to do and where to go – especially when family members are involved. Having a well developed and rehearsed home fire escape plan will provide loved ones with crucial time to escape, and could certainly mean the difference between life and death. This practical blog post shows how to develop a home fire escape plan and demonstrates that it needn’t be a difficult task.

Develop A Floor Plan And Identify The Emergency Exit Paths

The main purpose of a home fire escape plan is to provide the occupants of a dwelling sufficient knowledge and skill to escape a burning building. This is achieved by a) documenting the required information b) communicating the information and then c) practicing the home fire escape plan.

The first step in developing a home fire escape plan is to draw a basic floor plan / map of your house, including key locations such as each person’s bedroom. Review the floor plan collectively with all occupants of the dwelling – identify both the primary and secondary path of exit so there are two means of escape for each person in the event of a fire. Some things to consider – are there obstacles to negotiate such as large furniture? Are there ‘landmarks’ along the way which could assist if smoke has reduced visibility to zero? Are there people in the home of differing ages, mental acuity or reduced physical mobility? If so it may be worth allocating a ‘buddy’ to help these people. Agree on a muster point where everyone is to gather at a safe distance having evacuated the building.

Practice The Home Fire Escape Plan

It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing to actually do it. Rehearse the home fire escape plan and physically practice an escape with EVERY member of the household, twice yearly. During the rehearsal, a mobile phone timer could be used to create a sense of urgency, reduced visibility due to thick smoke can be simulated by placing a blindfold on the occupant and have them attempt to navigate the exit path in a controlled manner. Once outside the building, everyone should assemble at the fire escape plan’s designated muster point and perform an after action review to identify any opportunities for improvement. Time taken to escape the building can be logged and used as a performance benchmark for future rehearsals.

Interconnected Smoke Alarms

And The Home Fire Escape Plan

ZEN interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms provide greater early warning and response time to a fire – they should be installed within your home and form part of the overall home fire escape plan. Ensure they are installed in every bedroom, communal hallway outside the bedrooms and if in a multi-story dwelling then at least one on every floor. During the rehearsal of the home fire escape plan, test the interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms so all actually activate, and everyone becomes acquainted with their sound and meaning. Doing so may help lessen the sense of surprise or shock in a real-life fire event, and it is especially important for children who may not associate the smoke alarm sound with danger.

Fire Safety Essentials

Rehearsing your home fire escape plan is a great opportunity to impart some basic fire safety essentials. You may wish to document the following information in your home fire escape plan and ensure it is understood by all;

  • Immediately phone triple zero 000 for Australian emergency services, including the fire department.
  • Stay low to the ground to minimize inhaling toxic smoke and fumes which generally rise.
  • Prior to opening a door, test it using the back of the hand to ascertain if there is heat on the other side.
  • Close doors (but don’t lock) as you pass through them to limit air supply and possible expansion of the fire.
  • Once outside at the designated muster point perform a head count. Do not head back inside the burning building for any reason.

Smoke Alarms And The Home Fire Escape Plan – Summary

A home fire escape plan should be unique to each residence, and the occupants should be familiar with it. Review the home fire escape plan bi-annually and practice escaping from the building so that theoretical knowledge becomes reality. Ensure ZEN interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms are installed and test these during the practice-run. Basic fire safety essentials should also be added to the home fire escape plan and practiced – doing so will increase the opportunity for your loved ones to escape a burning home in a real-life emergency situation.

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

Queensland was rocked by another devastating house fire tragedy earlier this month when police confirmed that five young brothers and their 34-year-old father died in a house blaze on Russell Island, off Brisbane’s Redland Bay. Emergency services rushed to the home on Todman Street just after 6am on Sunday 8th August to find the two-storey house fully engulfed, with two neighbouring properties also alight. A 21-year-old woman thought to have been inside the house when the fire broke out managed to escape with injuries.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner, John Cawcutt, said the blaze was “one of the worst fires we’ve had for a long time”. Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan also said the fire was a great tragedy. “Of course a very sad day for Queenslanders,” he said. “Our hearts break for those involved in the tragedy. It seems a tragic loss of life”. A forensic investigation is currently underway to determine how the fire started, and why the smoke alarms did not activate.

A close family friend issued a harrowing plea to all Australians on the behalf of the Children’s surviving mother, stating that she ‘just wants the world to know – check your smoke alarms and hold your babies’.

In terms of sheer loss of life from a single domestic house fire, the Russell Island fire tragedy is second only to the August 2011 Logan house fire, which was Australia’s deadliest house fire, causing the death of 11 family members. A coronial inquest could not establish the exact cause of that blaze but a coroner found there was a ‘reasonable prospect’ that all or some of the victims could have escaped if smoke alarms had been working. That tragedy led to the introduction of new QLD laws for interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms inside every bedroom, hallways outside the bedrooms, and on every level of Queensland homes.

Why Didn’t The Smoke Detectors Activate

In The Russell Island House Fire?

The rented two storey Queenslander home allegedly had smoke detectors installed, however the female survivor of the blaze said she didn’t hear any smoke detectors activate, adding that concerns had previously been expressed about them. Immediately after the fire it remained unclear why the alarms didn’t activate and whether they were in working order. ‘With a fire of that intensity it will be difficult to know whether there were smoke alarms present or not but that will be part of the investigation,’ Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Joanne Greenfield said. It is understood the home was transported to the site around 2017. ‘So thinking about the legislation that was in place at that time it would have required one hardwired smoke alarm, that’s if it was following the legislation,’ QLD Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Leach said.

Development in the Russell Island house fire – why didn’t the smoke alarms activate?

QLD Interconnected Smoke Alarm Laws

From 1st January 2022, all properties being sold or leased for rent in Queensland were required by QLD law to have smoke alarms installed as per below (on 1st January 2027 the law is being extended to cover all QLD homeowners and occupiers, irrespective of whether the property is being sold or rented out).

QLD Legal Smoke Alarm Requirements

Smoke alarms in a domestic QLD property must:

  • be photoelectric (AS 3786-2014); and
  • not also contain an ionisation sensor
  • be less than 10 years old from manufacture date
  • operate correctly when tested
  • be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together
  • be either hardwired or powered by a non-removeable 10-year battery

Where Must Interconnected Smoke Alarms Be Installed?

In QLD, interconnected smoke alarms must be installed on each storey:

  • inside every bedroom
  • in hallways which connect the bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
  • if there is no bedroom on a storey, then at least one interconnected smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely travel path to exit the dwelling.

QLD Smoke Alarm Laws For Rental Properties

In addition to the above, rental property managers and landlords are required by QLD law (QLD Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990) to test and clean smoke alarms and replace any flat or nearly flat batteries within 30 days before the start of a tenancy. This also includes a renewal tenancy. The tenant must also test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling at least once every 12 months. If the tenant is aware a smoke alarm in the dwelling has failed, the tenant must advise the lessor as soon as possible.

Postscript Update – April 2024

The landlord was charged and fined under the QLD Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 after she admitted failing to install compliant photoelectric smoke alarms in the rental property.

The interstate landlord claimed to be unaware of the changes to QLD’s smoke alarm legislation.

“It’s absolutely no excuse that she failed to keep abreast of the laws required of an investment property owner in having the premises legally wired with smoke detectors after January 2022,” Magistrate Deborah Vasta said. Ms Vasta told the court that the landlord had failed to comply with safety legislation and a coronial inquest into the six deaths was still yet to occur.

“There’s no evidence about whether two smoke alarms that were there were working or not,” she said.

Detectives are continuing their investigation following the fire and a final report will be given to the coroner in the near future.

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

These new laws were introduced in Queensland due to several house fires which resulted in multiple fatalities.

Had each dwelling been fitted with functioning interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms in all the newly prescribed locations, the victims may have stood a chance of surviving.

Early detection = early alarm = early escape from a burning building. When the fire occurred, it was not only the flames themselves which presented as a hazard – most victims were first overcome by breathing in fumes and thick smoke.

Palace Backpackers Fire – Childers 2000

In June 2000 a resident of the Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel maliciously lit a fire inside. The fire quickly spread throughout the timber building. Unfortunately the hostel did not have working smoke detectors or alarms and fifteen young people died as a result. The arsonist was captured by police and sentenced to life imprisonment. The after effects of this tragic event are still evident on the local township to this day.

Slacks Creek House Fire – Brisbane 2011

A few minutes before midnight on 23rd August 2011, a  fire tore through a house in the suburb of Slacks Creek, South Brisbane.

This fire caused the greatest loss of life in a domestic house fire in Australian history, with eleven people (including many children) dying due to inhaling toxic smoke.

A finding from the 2014 Coronial Inquest stated that;
‘Once this particular fire started, it is likely that some or all of the deaths would have been prevented if the sleeping occupants had been quickly awoken and had realised that they needed to leave the house as quickly as possible … smoke alarms were either not present in the dwelling or were not maintained’.

Many prescriptive requirements and recommendations from the Coronial Inquest were subsequently incorporated into the QLD Building Fire Safety (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Legislation Amendment Regulation 2016.

The legislation can be read here;

Russell Island House Fire – Brisbane 2023

Just after 6am on 6th August 2023, Emergency Services were called to a raging house fire on Russell Island, a small community just off the southeast coast of Brisbane, QLD. This house fire tragically resulted in the loss of six lives – that of five young children and also their father who had returned inside the inferno to rescue them. Whilst the exact cause of the fire is undetermined, what is known is that the dwelling did not have legally compliant smoke alarms installed as per QLD’s smoke alarm legislation for rental properties.

The landlord / owner of the rental property was subsequently charged and fined for failing to comply with Queensland smoke alarm legislation.

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