In Queensland, approximately 75% of all home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms — almost 50% of these house fire deaths happen while people are sleeping. This is why it is important to have smoke alarms installed at home. Without it, the risk of death from a house fire is 3 times higher. Smoke alarms save lives.

Effective July 2007, the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990 requires that every domestic household to have smoke alarms. This does not only apply to the rental sector but to all residential dwellings in Queensland. Therefore, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have a working smoke alarm installed.

Requirements

– A 9-volt battery-operated smoke alarm is a requirement in homes built before 1st of July 1997
– A 240-volt smoke alarm is a must have for homes built or renovated after 1st of July 1997
– Buildings submitted for approval from May 2014 must have interconnected and hard-wired smoke alarms.

Recommendation

It has been recommended by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services that all homes use photoelectric smoke alarms as opposed to the ionisation types. The former are usually more effective because they tend to detect the smoke by recognising visible particles of combustion. This makes them a better option as they are more accurate in detecting smouldering fires and dense smoke (not smoke from cooking).

How to Choose Your Smoke Alarms

When deciding on which alarm to pick, look for these:

– complies with the Australian Standard AS 3786-1993
– certified by the Scientific Services Laboratory (SSL) or bears the Standards Australia Mark

Where to Install the Alarms

You cannot just install smoke alarms anywhere you like. There are specific locations where you are required to place your alarms.

– On or close to the ceiling on any level.
– In between any areas consisting of the bedrooms and the rest of the unit (e.g. hallways)
– On a level which does not contain bedrooms on the probable exit route from the property.

Property Owner’s Obligations

As the lessor, it is your obligation to ensure that all the smoke alarms in the property are clean and in working condition within 30 days of the start of the tenancy. The same thing applies if you offer a renewal agreement at the end of the current agreement.

You must replace the battery of the alarm immediately if you find out that it is empty or almost empty. If you have any issues other than the battery, then you must have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Tenant’s Obligations

If the battery is flat or is running flat during a tenancy, it is the tenant’s obligation to replace it, as much as it is their obligation to clean and test the alarms only if:

– They are under a 12-month agreement or longer.
– They are on a periodic tenancy (12 months or longer).

If the tenant does not fall under these criteria, they could not be obliged to clean and test the alarms.

How to Maintain and Replace Smoke Alarms

– Check the battery regularly (once a month) by pressing the test button.
– Keep the alarms clean as dust impedes their function.
– DO NOT turn off the alarm if smoke is set off while cooking. Turn on a fan or open a window instead.
– Replace batteries at least once a year.
– DO NOT paint the smoke alarms.
– DO NOT remove the batteries.
– Replace the smoke alarms BEFORE the expiry date stated on the manufacturer’s warranty.

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