If here’s one thing you should know first about smoke alarms it’s this: According to Fire and Rescue NSW data, 56% of fatal home fires between 2000 and 2014 occurred in homes where no smoke alarms were present. Australia and worldwide the stats are pretty similar, they absolutely massively help, but many homeowners still don’t have them, or have cheap, untested and faulty ones so putting themselves at great risk.

Types of smoke alarms

Technology has moved on a great deal since smoke alarms were first common and now there are 3 types of domestic smoke alarm:

  • Ionisation
  • Photoelectrical
  • Dual / Multi (combination of both the above)

Which Type of Smoke Alarm is Best?

Photoelectric alarms are newer but not necessarily better. Each one has its merits as they work in slightly different ways.

Ionisation Alarm – This type of alarm detects the invisible smoke particles given off by fast-burning fires such as those caused by burning clothes, bedding or paper. Their sensitivity means that they are not suitable for use in or near kitchens, as they are prone to false alarms caused by cooking. They are well suited to bedrooms or landings..

Photoelectric Alarm – They are good at detecting the larger smoke particles from slow, smouldering fires, such as those caused by overheating wires. They are recommended for use in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, landings and hallways. They are not suitable for use in a kitchen but may be installed nearby.

There are also interconnected (interlinked) alarms which simply means when one alarm is triggered, all linked alarms will trigger which is ideal for larger properties where a solitary alarm might not be heard, but they don’t change how they detect (see below for new legislation in QLD). They operate using radio frequencies meaning there is no complicated or disruptive cable installation.

Ionisation alarms are the cheapest but they have been banned in some countries as they give off a tiny non harmful amount of radiation making them a pollutant when disposed of. There are of course specialist alarms for the hard of hearing using strobe lights and vibrating pads. For more info please look here but your local electrician will make sure you have the right type.

The rules differ somewhat depending on your criteria but can be simply checked here for QLD or we will advise when fitting smoke alarms to your property to make sure you are fully compliant.

Most commercial alarms are battery operated, some with non-replaceable batteries meaning they can last up to 10 years and you don’t need to worry about batteries failing as much. Mains alarms are preferable but obviously more expensive to fit.

All alarms should be regularly tested at least once a year and replaced at least every 10 years.

Changes to The Law in QLD January 2022 for Landlords

From 1 January 2022, landlords must install interconnected smoke alarms in residential rental properties. All other dwellings must transition to full compliance by 2027. See here for more info.

If you would like smoke alarms correctly fitted and upgraded in your property just give Rob Martin a call on 0412 083 349.