How many do I need to buy?

It’s the law to have at least one working smoke alarm 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.

FRNSW strongly recommends that residents use smoke alarms with a 10-year life that are hardwired to the mains electricity supply and interconnected with other alarms within the home. Hard-wired interconnected smoke alarms must be installed by a certified electrician.

In addition to the minimum requirement of one smoke alarm per level, Fire & Rescue NSW recommends installing smoke alarms in all rooms where people sleep and the hallways leading to sleeping areas.

Video: Shopping to replace your smoke alarm

Michelle and Charlie ask Station Officer Brett Johnson some questions about smoke alarms.

Are there approved smoke alarms?

The Australian Standard symbol on the packaging shows if the alarm is approved and safe.

All smoke alarms installed in residential accommodation in NSW must meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS 3786.

Hard-wired or battery operated?

Fire & Rescue NSW recommends wherever possible, hard-wired and interconnected smoke alarms are installed.

If your alarms cannot be hard-wired, FRNSW recommends smoke alarms that have a 10-year life.

Hard-wired smoke alarm

A hard-wired smoke alarm consists of a 240-volt smoke alarm connected to a home's electrical system with a battery back-up power supply.

Battery operated smoke alarm

Most smoke alarms come with a battery but not all batteries are the same:

  • 10 year lithium batteries: These batteries are recommended and last as long as the smoke alarm.
  • Lead or alkaline batteries: Need to be replaced yearly.

Where can I buy them?

Smoke alarms are available at most hardware stores, large supermarkets, electrical suppliers and a variety of retail stores.

All smoke alarms must meet Australian Standards 3786 (AS3786).

Smoke alarms for the deaf and hearing impaired

Specialised smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.

These have a flashing strobe light. They may also have a vibrating pad that can be placed under a pillow. This activates when the smoke alarm sounds.

The systems are designed to interconnect with conventional audible alarms throughout a home. If one alarm senses smoke, all alarms will sound, the strobe will flash and the vibrating pad will operate.

At present, there is no Australian Standard (AS) that applies to smoke alarms for hearing impaired people. If the code number AS3786 appears on a smoke alarm for hearing impaired people, it refers only to the smoke alarm sensing unit and does not include the flashing strobe light or the vibrating pad.

For further information, or to purchase smoke alarms for the deaf or hearing impaired, contact either the Deaf Society of NSW at www.deafsocietynsw.org.au [external link] or Better Hearing Sydney at www.betterhearingsydney.org.au [external link]