What type of smoke alarm do I need?
144 deaths occurred in house fires across NSW between 2000 and June 2005.
Based on FRNSW Fire Investigation and Research Unit case study research, one third to a half of those fatalities may have been prevented if the homes had a working smoke alarm and had practiced a home escape plan.
The information on this page refers to the minimum requirements needed to meet the new Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005. The Fire & Rescue NSW recommends a higher level of protection. For more information on the Fire & Rescue NSW recommendations, refer to FRNSW policy on smoke alarms
You must install smoke alarms which comply with Australian Standard 3786 (AS3786). The standard should be clearly marked on the packaging.
If you previously installed smoke alarms prior to 1 May 2006 that do not comply with AS3786 they will be deemed to comply (providing that they are working and in the correct location).
Type of premises you live in or own
The type of smoke alarm you require is dependent on the type of premises you live in or own. More information on the smoke alarm you require depending on the Type of premises you live in or own
Smoke alarm types
There are a number of different types of smoke alarms available: ionisation, photoelectric, carbon monoxide, alarms for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, alarms with emergency lights and special models for kitchens and relocatable homes. All of these smoke alarms differ in how they detect smoke and/or alert people.
Fire & Rescue NSW strongly recommend that you install a photoelectric type smoke alarm that is hard wired and interconnected. Photoelectric alarms appear to be superior to ionisation alarms in most circumstances, and there is little appreciable difference in performance during flaming fires. Therefore, photoelectric alarms may provide a faster warning in many circumstances.
Power supply sources
Smoke alarms can also have varying power sources. They can either be hard wired or battery operated. Find out more about Smoke alarm power sources
- Where can I get a smoke alarm?
- Where should I install them?
- How do I maintain my smoke alarms?
- National Institute of Science and Technology: Smoke Alarm Research [external link]
- Fire Protection Association of Australia [external link]: Installation of hard wired smoke alarms and special systems