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Smoke Alarm Legislative Requirements


Smoke Alarm Legislative Requirements

From 1 July 1997 the installation of mains powered smoke alarms became mandatory for all new residential buildings (or residential building extensions) within Western Australia. Since 1 October 2009 mains powered smoke alarms must also be fitted in all existing residential buildings prior to the transfer of ownership, rent or hire.

Requirements for smoke alarms

Smoke alarms must:

  • be positioned according to the requirements of the Building Code of Australia, and
  • comply with AS3786 (from 1 May 2017 all newly installed smoke alarms must comply with AS3786:2014), and
  • be permanently connected to consumer mains power where it is supplied to the building, and
  • be interconnected, if your home was newly built after the 1 May 2015.
  • If you are planning to sell, rent or hire your home, smoke alarms must also be:

  • in working order, and
  • less than 10 years from the date of installation.

  • In SINGLE-LEVEL homes smoke alarms must be installed on or near the ceiling:
  • in all hallways leading to bedrooms, or
  • where there is no hallway, in an area near the bedrooms.
  • In MULTI-LEVEL homes smoke alarms must be installed:
  • on each level containing bedrooms (see instructions for a single level home), and
  • on every other level not containing bedrooms, even if they consist only of bathrooms, laundries, carparking etc. The favoured location for the smoke alarm is in the path of travel people will most likely take to evacuate the building, such as on a wall or ceiling in the stairway.

  • The Building Code of Australia provides some flexibility when considering detector location and type. For example, if you have a private garage attached to your home, the use of a smoke alarm may result in nuisance false alarms. The BCA allows property owners to install a heat alarm that complies with AS1670.1 provided smoke alarms complying with AS3786 are installed elsewhere.

    For optimum smoke detection, we recommend smoke alarms be installed in every bedroom, living area and hallway in the house.

    Small guest houses and boarding houses (with less than 12 occupants) are required to have smoke alarms installed on or near the ceiling:

  • In every bedroom, and
  • In every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom, or if there is no corridor or hallway, in an area near the bedrooms, and
  • On each level of the building.
  • A system of lighting must also be installed to assist evacuation of occupants in the event of a fire. The lighting must be activated by the smoke alarm and consist of:
  • A light incorporated in the smoke alarm, or
  • The lighting located in the corridor, hallway or area served by the smoke alarm.


    The use of battery powered alarms

    The Building Regulations 2012 allows the use of battery powered smoke alarms where:

  • mains power is not connected to the dwelling
  • where there is no hidden space to run the necessary wiring for mains powered alarms, and there is no appropriate alternative location – for example, where there is a concrete ceiling.
  • The use of battery operated alarms for any other circumstance must be approved by local government. Battery operated alarms must have a non-removable 10-year life battery. (9V battery operated alarms are not admissible).

    Please note, where a multi-level home is permitted to use a battery powered smoke alarm because the ground floor ceiling is concrete, the owner must not (for the sake of convenience) install a battery powered alarm on the upper floor ceiling where there is sufficient space to run the electrical wiring.

    Exemptions for demolition

    The current owner of a dwelling may choose not to install smoke alarms if the new owner intends to demolish the dwelling and has provided a Declaration of Intended Demolition to the current owner before the transfer of ownership.

    A Declaration of Intended Demolition is a statutory declaration made by the person to whom the ownership is to be transferred (the new owner) declaring that the person intends to demolish the dwelling within six months beginning on the transfer day (being the day on which ownership is transferred).

    If the property is not demolished, the new owner must install the required number of smoke alarms in the dwelling within six months of the transfer.

    The new owner will also be required to install smoke alarms should he or she subsequently decide to rent or hire the dwelling after the transfer, prior to demolition.

    Information about Statutory Declarations is available on the Department of Justice website.

    Penalties for non-compliance

    Local Governments have the power under the Building Act 2011 and the Building Regulations 2012 to either issue an infringement notice or prosecute an owner who fails to have compliant smoke alarms installed prior to selling, transferring ownership, renting or hiring the dwelling.



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