These new laws were introduced in Queensland due to several house fires which resulted in multiple fatalities.
Had the dwellings in each instance been fitted with functioning wireless interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms 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
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 after effects of this tragic event are still evident on the local township to this day.
The arsonist was captured by police and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Slacks Creek House Fire – Brisbane
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;