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New requirements for smoke alarms came into effect in Queensland on 1 January 2017 because of changes to the Fire and Emergency Act 2008.
Building approval applications for new building work or substantial renovations to Class 1a or a sole occupancy unit of a Class 2 building need to allow for installation of photoelectric smoke alarms complying with AS 3786-2014 Smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light or ionisation.
For the purposes of the Act, "substantial’ is any alteration or previous structural alteration approved or completed in the previous three years that represents more than half the volume of the existing building or structure measured over its roof and external walls.
Photoelectric or ionisation?
Smoke alarms containing an ionisation sensor or a combined ionization/photoelectric sensor can no longer be installed in domestic buildings as they are prone to result in nuisance alarms.
Photoelectric smoke alarms need to be interconnected and hardwired to the domestic building's electricity supply. They must be on or near the ceiling in every bedroom, in the following locations:
- Any storey containing bedrooms:
- Between each part of the dwelling containing bedrooms and the remainder of the dwelling; and
- Where bedrooms are served by a hallway, in that hallway; and
- Any other storey not containing bedrooms and/or egress paths for a Class 2 sole occupancy unit.
These requirements don’t apply to a sole occupancy unit in a Class 2 building if a smoke detection system complying with specification E2.2a clause 4 of the Building Code (volume one) has been installed.
A building certifier will generally seek confirmation from the installer that electrical systems comply with the approved design.
They will normally accept certificates (Form 16) from the installing electricians, but if they’re not going to conduct further checking, they’ll need to assess the individual to be a competent person.
Check out the Department of Housing and Public Works website for further guidelines.
The following timeframes apply to phase-in the installation of photoelectric smoke alarms:
- For new building work or substantial renovations to Class 1a or a sole occupancy unit of a Class 2 building, compliance is required if the application for a building development approval is made after 31 December 2016.
- Expired or faulty smoke alarms in existing dwellings must be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms from 1 January 2017. Interconnection and durable power sources must apply to replacements in existing dwellings from 1 January 2027.
- After five years: dwellings that are sold or when new tenancy or renewed leases occur must comply from 1 January 2022
- After 10 years: All Class 1a or a sole occupancy unit of a Class 2 building must comply from 1 January 2027.
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