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Summary Bulletin: Fire Safety - Smoke Alarms 2nd ed

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Authors Quinn, J.
Illustrators/Contributors Svenger, M., Quinn, J.
Audience Consumers, Government/NGOs/Peaks, Industry, Librarians/Researchers/Students
ISBN 978-0-7334-3583-6
DOI 10.26288/5c493af88238f

Smoke alarms provide early warning of a fire in the home, potentially saving residents’ lives. It can take just minutes for a fire to reach flashpoint in a modern home.  Residents that take longer or require assistance to respond in a fire, including older people, children, and people with disabilities, are at greatest risk.  It is essential to have smoke alarms rapidly detect fire smoke, and awaken and alert residents, so they can escape safely.

Smoke alarm regulations have led to increased uptake of smoke alarms in Australian homes, but fire authorities and researchers recommend that more be done. Residents in new dwellings are safeguarded by regulations for hard-wired and interconnected smoke alarms.  However, the majority of residents living in older dwellings have less regulatory protection; most states and territories require a minimum of just one battery-powered smoke alarm, and some have no requirement for smoke alarms.  Even when smoke alarms are installed in dwellings, many are not operational due to lack of maintenance and disconnection to avoid nuisance alarms.

This second edition of Summary Bulletin: Fire Safety – Smoke Alarms responds to recent Australian regulatory changes for smoke alarms in dwellings, advances in smoke alarm devices, and current smoke alarm recommendations of fire authorities and researchers.  It examines the function and use of contemporary smoke alarm devices and details the applicable national and state/territory regulations for different dwelling types.  Recommendations are made for smoke alarm selection, placement and maintenance, to detect fire smoke whilst avoiding nuisance alarms; alert residents of all ages and abilities when fire smoke is detected; and ensure reliable smoke alarm functioning in a fire.

This publication is accompanied by Consumer Factsheet: Fire Safety - Smoke Alarms


Publication History

1st edition: Home Smoke Alarms: Hard Wired and Battery-Powered Systems by Tanja von Behrens, July 2006


Contribution of Authors

This is the 2nd edition of Summary Bulletin: Fire Safety - Smoke Alarms. It replaces the original publication, titled Summary Bulletin: Home Smoke Alarms: Hard Wired and Battery-Powered Systems, authored by Tanja von Behrens (2006).

Joanne Quinn undertook the writing and research for the second edition. The changes to regulations, Standards, and products in the market, since the first edition in 2006 have resulted in all new content for this edition.

Table of Contents

    Smoke Alarm Systems
        Smoke alarm power types
        Smoke and other fire detection methods
        Supplementary alarm devices for people with hearing impairment
    Regulatory Requirements for Smoke Alarms in the Home
        Requirements for smoke alarms in new homes in the NCC
        Requirements for smoke alarms in existing homes - state and territory legislation
        Smoke alarm locations
    The Need for Further Protection by Smoke Alarms
        Improving the detection of smoke (without nuisance alarms)
        Improving rapid alert of residents when smoke is detected
        Ensuring reliable functioning of smoke alarms
    Assistance with Smoke Alarms
        Assistance with placement, installation, and maintenance of smoke alarms
        Subsidies for supplementary smoke alarm devices for people with hearing impairment
    Appendix 1: Standards Relevant to Home Smoke Alarms

Specialist Review Panel

Professor Dorothy BruckVictoria UniversityGuest Expert Research Panel
John Templeman & Richard WaterfieldHome Modifications Australia [MOD.A]Industry Panel
Dr Janice HerbertNational SeniorsConsumer Panel
Keith ShinnDeafness Forum of AustraliaConsumer Panel
A/Superintendent Michael OllerenshawFire & Rescue NSWGuest Expert Panel
Senior Fire Fighter Melanie RebaneFire & Rescue NSWGuest Expert Panel

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