It is mandatory that, in N.S.W. all residents have at least one correctly working smoke detector installed on each level of their residence. Drive past any fire station and you will see signs reinforcing the message that fire alarms save lives.
Important Considerations – Smoke Detectors:
- You need more than one smoke alarm. When looking to get smoke alarms installed in your home, do not even think about only getting one detector installed. N.S.W. Fire and Rescue recommend having a smoke alarm in all rooms where people sleep and any hallway leading to those rooms.
- Correct installation of smoke detectors is required. Smoke detectors are a life saving device and should be installed in an effective, well thought out way. In the case of a.c. smoke alarms they must be installed by a suitably licensed electrician. The correct location and orientation of smoke detectors is essential and is best left to professionals. Factors like the proximity to windows, heater, air conditioners, fans and potential external air flows may stop smoke reaching the detectors, rendering them as useless in an emergency situation.
- In general ionisation type smoke detectors are not recommended and photoelectric smoke alarms are preferred. The N.S.W. fire commissioner has called for ionisation type smoke detectors to be banned (as they are in the Northern Territory) – see the video below. Detectors come in a.c. (hard wired into the mains, with battery backup, should mains power fail) or d.c., battery operated detectors. The a.c. detectors with battery backup are the preferred option, with detectors interconnected.
- Just as important as the type of detector and the installation, it is imperative that smoke alarms are regularly tested and regularly cleaned, maintained and have their batteries replaced (for d.c. models).
- Use only approved smoke detectors. Smoke alarms installed in homes and residences must conform to the Australian Standard AS 3786.
As you can see, smoke alarms are a must have, for any home owner, but it is important to understand that these life saving devices need to be correctly specified, correctly installed and comply with regulations.
Further reading: Smoke alarm buyers guide
N.S.W. Fire Commissioner Calls For Banning Of Ionisation Smoke Detectors: