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NSW Smoke Alarms - It's the law

Fact

Smoke alarms are life-saving devices that detect smoke well before any sleeping occupant would and provide critical seconds to implement actions to save life and property. Under Clause 146A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and Division 7A of Part 9 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, at least one working smoke alarm must be installed on each level in all buildings in NSW where people sleep. The smoke alarms must meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS 3786. These provisions came into effect on 1 May 2006. A person who does not comply with the legislation is guilty of an offence (maximum penalty $550).

NSW legislation provides for a minimum level of protection; however, Fire & Rescue NSW recommends owners and occupants consider higher levels of protection.

For homeowners

NSW legislation stipulates that smoke alarms must be installed on every level of your home. This includes owner occupied homes, rental properties, relocatable homes, caravans and camper-vans or any other residential building where people sleep.

For tenants

NSW legislation mandates that your landlord is responsible for ensuring your residence meets the minimal requirements of having at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home.

Landlords are responsible for the installation of smoke alarms in rented premises.

Landlords have the right of access to rented premises to fit smoke alarms after giving the tenant at least two days’ notice.

After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery, if needed, in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.

If the tenant is physically unable to change the battery, the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable.

For landlords

According to NSW legislation, neither the landlord nor the tenant are, except with reasonable excuse, permitted to remove or interfere with the operation of a smoke alarm fitted in the rented premises.

Where a smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, the landlord must put a new battery in at the commencement of a tenancy.

After the tenancy begins, the tenant is responsible for replacing the battery, if needed, in battery-operated smoke alarms. Hard-wired smoke alarm back-up batteries are to be replaced by the landlord.

If the tenant is physically unable to change the battery the tenant is required to notify the landlord as soon as practicable.

The condition report section of the tenancy agreement must include a specific reference to smoke alarms so that tenants and landlords are able to note and comment on the presence of smoke alarms at the beginning and end of the tenancy.

Owners of residential properties who rent out their premises as holiday accommodation are responsible for installing smoke alarms and replacing batteries.
Other laws apply to boarding houses and backpackers.

For caravans and motorhomes

Caravans and campervans have limited escape options in the event of a fire. You have just a few seconds to get out of a burning caravan, as they are constructructed of lightweight and highly combustible fittings.. A working smoke alarm can mean the difference between life and death.

NSW legislation stipulates that you must have at least one working smoke alarm inside the van where the bed is, and one in the annex if people are sleeping there.

These smoke alarms must be fitted with a "hush" button, allowing the occupant to silence the alarm for 10 minutes.

REMEMBER

NSW legislation mandates a minimum requirement for smoke alarms; however, Fire & Rescue NSW recommends you aim for a higher level of protection with interconnected alarms installed in all bedrooms and living spaces (including hallways and stairways) and even the garage.

Sadly, 144 deaths occurred in house fires across NSW between 2000 and June 2005. On average over the past few years, 21 deaths have occurred in residential fires across NSW every year. Based on Fire & Rescue NSW research, one third to a half of those fatalities may have been prevented if the homes had working smoke alarms and had a practised home escape plan.

Any alarms installed after 1 May 2006 must comply with AS3786.

Residential accommodation requiring smoke alarms;

These types of Residential accommodation require smoke alarms; detached houses, terrace houses, town houses, villa units (Class 1a buildings), apartments, home units, flats (Class 2 buildings), caretakers flats, single residences above shops (Class 4 parts of buildings), relocatable homes, e.g. manufactured homes and moveable dwellings.

Shared accommodation requiring smoke alarms;

Shared accommodation installation is also mandatory in small boarding houses, guest houses, hostels; backpackers accommodation; bed and breakfast accommodation (Class 1b buildings), large boarding houses, guest houses, hostels, backpacker accommodation; residential parts of hotels, motels, schools, health care buildings, detention centres; certain residential accommodation for the aged, children and people with disabilities (Class 3 buildings) and hospitals and nursing homes (Class 9a health care buildings).

Further information

For more information on the Regulations: