Smoke Alarms-Building Amendment Regulations 2009

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					       Smoke Alarms-Building Amendment Regulations 2009
             (Frequently Asked Questions updated 19 August 2009)

What types of properties to these new smoke alarm regulations apply to
when do they commence?
Q What types of properties do these new smoke alarm regulations apply to?
A Houses, duplexes, villas, flats, town houses and apartments (BCA Class 1a, 2
4)and any guest house or hostel such as a bed and breakfast where people
reside (BCA Class 1b).
Q When do they commence?
A The new regulation will come into effect on 1 October 2009.

Selling or Buying a Property
Q I am planning to sell my home. It does not have any hard wired (mains
smoke alarms installed. What am I required to do?
A From 1 October 2009, prior to the transfer of ownership of your property hard
wired (mains powered) smoke alarms will need to be fitted.
Q I am thinking of buying a new house to live in. Who has to fit the smoke
A The responsibility for having smoke alarms fitted to the property rests with the
vendor (seller). They should be aware of this new requirement, however it may
pay to ask if hard wired smoke alarms are installed and if so they are within the
year service life. This is best checked by a licensed electrical contractor.
Q If I take ownership of a property after 1 October 2009 and I find it does not
smoke alarms fitted. What can I do?
A You must contact the seller and ask them to rectify the situation. Alternatively,
you can install the smoke alarms to meet the requirements and recover
reasonable costs in a court from the previous owner. In addition action can be
taken against the previous owner by local government and an infringement notice
issue or prosecution action taken. [Reg 38K (2)]. A fine of $5 000 can be
As the new owner, if there are no smoke alarms installed when you take
ownership of the property you will be required to fit smoke alarms within 12
months otherwise you will be in breach of the regulations.[Reg 38K(1)]
The best advice is to check with the vendor (seller) and confirm that smoke
alarms have been installed.

Rental Property questions
Q I am a landlord and am changing tenants. What do I have to do?
A After 1 October 2009, when there is a tenancy change smoke alarms to meet
new requirements must be fitted.
Q Do smoke alarms have to be fitted before the tenant moves in?
A Landlords have up to 14 days from the date the tenant/lessee is entitled to
the dwelling, to have the smoke alarms installed (Regulation38L)
Q I am a landlord and have a long running tenant in my rental property. Do I have
install smoke alarms?
A If there is no change of tenancy in a rental property by 1 October 2011, smoke
alarms will be required to be installed by that date.
Q I am a tenant moving into a rental property after October 2009 and observe
are no smoke alarms fitted?
A Speak to your landlord. From 1 October 2009, all rental properties where there
a change of tenant are required to have smoke alarms fitted.
If this does not resolve the situation, you should speak to your Local Government
who can inspect the property, issue a rectification notice, infringement notice or
prosecute for any breaches with a fine up to $5 000.

Where are smoke alarms required and what type should be fitted?
Q How many smoke alarms will have to be fitted to my house?
A This will depend on the design of your property, in particular the number of
bedrooms, how far they are separated and how many levels in your house.
Class 1b buildings (hostels/guest houses/bed and breakfast premises) require
smoke alarms to be installed in each sleeping occupancy.
See FESA information sheet relating to installation.
Q What type of smoke alarms are the best to use?
A Any smoke alarm used must conform to AS 3786. FESA recommends
smoke alarms are installed. Research indicates this type of alarm
consistently provides sufficient time for occupants to escape from smouldering
and flaming fires, provided the alarms are properly installed and maintained and
occupants hear them.

There are smoke alarms installed, do they meet the requirements?
Q There are smoke alarms installed, how do I know they are hard wired (mains
A This is best verified by a licensed electrical contractor. The electrician can also
check the unit to see if it is still within the 10 year service life. Any smoke alarm
has to be replaced after 10 years.
FESA has developed a sticker in conjunction with the National Electrical
Communications Association (NECA) that is now being used by licensed
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contractors to record the date the mains powered smoke alarms were installed.
This will be placed in the meter box or switchboard servicing the dwelling.
Q There are more than two hard wired smoke alarms installed and they have
fitted at different dates. What date should I use?
A The date the first smoke alarm was installed should be used.
Q The house has a mains powered security system installed which has a smoke
detection function incorporated. The system has a battery back-up. Does this
meet the requirements of the new regulations?
A Smoke alarms connected as part of security systems are acceptable as long as
they meet the requirements of Australian Standard 3786 which apply to all smoke
alarm equipment. This would be best answered by the manufacturer of your
security system. The location of the smoke detection heads must also be
consistent with BCA requirements.
Irrespective of the mechanisms of smoke detection systems used, all smoke
detection equipment must be changed after 10 years as reliability severely
diminishes after this time. This should be discussed with system manufacturer or

How much do smoke alarms cost to install and how long do they last?
Q How much do they cost to install?
A Mains powered smoke alarms are wired into your house’s electrical system and
have to be installed by a licensed electrical contractor. The National Electrical
Communications Association have advised electrician’s costs to supply and fit an
individual hard wired smoke alarm is $240 – $280 (not incl GST) and $150 –
$180 for additional units where required.
Q How long do they last?
A All smoke alarms have a recognised service life of 10 years before they
unreliable. Smoke alarms therefore need to be changed every 10 years. Some
hard wired smoke alarms require a back-up battery to power the alarm during
power outages and these also may need changing every 12 months.
Q How do I know if they are working?
A All smoke alarms are fitted with a test switch and FESA recommends all units
should be tested monthly.

It is not practical to install a mains powered smoke alarm
Q There is no mains power available?
A A smoke alarm powered by a 10 year life battery that cannot be removed from
alarm should be used.
Q I am selling an apartment in a block where the ceiling is solid concrete. Do I
to install a hard wired (mains powered) smoke alarm?
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A In dwellings where the construction of the building does not permit a space to
conceal the wiring and there is no appropriate alternative location to install a
mains powered smoke alarm then a unit powered by a 10 year life battery that
cannot be removed from the alarm is permitted. There is no application to be
completed in these situations.
Q I am an owner or a landlord and installing a mains powered smoke alarm and
there are reasons of a structural nature that make this impractical? Do I have to
install smoke alarms?
A You will have to make application to the Local Government for the area who
review the circumstances and may approve a unit powered by a 10 year life
battery that cannot be removed from the alarm. You will need to follow the local
government process and this may involve paying a fee no greater than $170 to
process your application.

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Description: Smoke Alarms-Building Amendment Regulations 2009