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Smoke Alarms in Buildings and Houses

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms have become one of the required safety features in houses. Since 1996 all new buildings are required to have smoke alarms installed. It is also a requirement since the 1 May 2006 that smoke alarms be fitted to all buildings.

It is also current legislation that houses for sale must include smoke alarms prior to the sale of the property. You can find out more and get a Pre Purchase Building Report here.

Smoke alarms can either be hardwired (direct wired to a power source) or battery operated. It is of course preferable that they be hardwired as it does overcome a need to regularly replace batteries. It is, however, more logical in older style unit buildings, where it is not possible to install the required wiring, that battery operated smoke alarms be fitted. The batteries require replacement approximately every 6 months.

One problem which can occur with smoke alarms is installing them too close to kitchens where the alarm is set off by toasters or cooking. It is recommended that an alarm be located near, but not in, a kitchen to overcome this dilemma.

How does a Smoke Alarm work?

There are two types of smoke alarms:

Photoelectric: This type of smoke alarm uses a light source and photocell. As the smoke enters the detection chamber it interferes with the light beam which in turn causes the alarm to sound.

Ionisation: A small amount of radioactive material is used to create an electrical current which travels through ionised air. When smoke enters the detection chamber it impedes the flow of current and causes the alarm to sound.

Where should Smoke Alarms be located?

When deciding on the position of smoke alarms it is important to remember that they are intended to detect smoke before it reaches the sleeping occupants of a building.

The ensuing alarm is designed to wake the occupants and give them time to evacuate the building.

We suggest you view the following websites for more information on smoke alarms, type available and location.


Interconnecting Smoke Alarms

Some types of alarm are capable of interconnection to the other alarms so that if one alarm sounds then the other alarms are also activated, adding an enhanced level of safety. There is no requirement in the BCA that smoke alarms be interconnected.

Questions and Advice

If you have questions about smoke alarm installation or inspections, please contact us on the details below.

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