the latest on smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are an essential installation to every home to protect you, your family, your pets and property.

Where more than one alarm is required to be installed in a new home, interconnection of the smoke alarms is now required.  The new requirement of the Building Code of Australia 2014 took effect on the 1 May 2014 with a 12 month transition period.   Do the recent changes effect you?  While you still need to have compliant smoke alarms prior to selling, transferring ownership, renting or hiring a home, smoke alarms do not need to be interconnected if the dwelling was approved or constructed before 1 May 2015. 

Interconnected smoke alarms are safer than standalone smoke alarms because they let you know about an emergency sooner. Even if you’re in the house, you may not be close to the area where the fire has started.  Once smoke is detected by one alarm, all smoke alarms in the house will sound. Thornbury Electrics  recommend the installation of photoelectric interconnected smoke alarms.

Photoelectric smoke detectors contain a light source in a light-sensitive electric sensor, which are positioned at 90-degree angles to one another. Normally, light from the light source shoots straight across and misses the sensor.  When smoke enters the chamber, it scatters the light, which then hits the sensor and triggers the alarm.  Photoelectric smoke detectors typically respond faster to a fire in its early, smouldering stage.


Smoke detectors have a 10 year life and should be replaced to ensure you, your family and home are protected in the case of a fire. Please call Thornbury Electrics on (08) 9367 1198 to book an appointment.

Have you considered installing addition smoke alarms? For a domestic home, as a minimum, smoke alarms should be installed on any storey containing bedrooms. We can advise on the most suitable position for the best protection and no false alarming.

Regular maintenance of your smoke alarm is also required. You can do this yourself or we can help with:

  • Testing the smoke alarm at least every six months
  • Check & vacuum around the smoke alarm(s) at least every 6 months for a build-up of dust, cobwebs & insects
  • Annually replacing the battery. Mains powered smoke alarms have back-up batteries – they can either be a 9V battery which is to be changed annually while some models have a rechargeable non removable battery which does not need to be changed during the life of the unit. (Always refer to the manufacturer’s guide when selecting batteries and follow testing procedures)

People with hearing impairments can choose smoke alarms that sound an ultra-loud warning and others that have visual and vibrating indicators. The NSW Deaf Society web page provides details on one brand available if this is a concern for you or someone you know.  Please contact us if we can help with ordering this or another brand.  At the time of writing, there does not appear to be any subsidised program in WA.

Battery powered smoke alarms may be installed where there is no space in the ceiling for running cables, eg: a concrete ceiling. The use of battery powered smoke alarms in any other circumstance must be approved by the local government.

Thornbury Electrics use and recommend Clipsal smoke alarms. All units comply with the latest Australian standards (AS3786 Smoke Alarms) and are ActivFire certified to ensure compliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).  Units are manufactured to the highest quality standard as endorsed by SAI Global as a Certified Product.

These links might be helpful for further information on the regulations relating to smoke alarms:

the Building Commission’s ‘Smoke alarm laws’ fact sheet.