Smoke Alarm Detectors
Do smoke alarms expire?
Under Australian Standard AS3786 smoke alarms have a lifespan of 10 years. All smoke alarms, including 240v hard wired alarms must be replaced at the expiration of 10 years.
Is it necessary to install 240v hard wired smoke alarms?
For any property built after July 1997, or any property which has been significantly renovated, the smoke alarms must be 240v alarms. In all other cases, 9v or 10 year lithium smoke alarms are acceptable.
What is the best smoke alarm to install in a rental property?
If the property is built after July 1997 or has been substantially renovated, the alarm must be a 240v alarm. We strongly recommend a Photoelectric alarm rather than an Ionisation alarm. Our experience has shown that the 10 year lithium battery, Photoelectric smoke alarm is the most reliable, efficient alarm on the market. Whilst costing more than a standard 9v battery smoke alarm, we have found this alarm to have less false alarms and responds better to real smoke threats. And very importantly, the battery cannot be removed which can happen in the 9v alarms.
Where do smoke alarms have to be located?
This is set in the Building Code of Australia. The absolute minimum requirement is one per property. There must be at least one alarm on every level of the property, regardless of the layout of that level. The location of the bedrooms in the property then decide how many alarms are required. Alarms must be positioned between the bedroom exit points and the rest of the house.
What Smoke Alarm To Install Ionisation Alarms Or Photoelectric Units ?
Ionisation Smoke alarm :
- These contain a very small amount of radioactive material (Americium-241), which produces charged particles, or ions, in a test chamber. The alarm monitors the current generated by these ions. When particles given off in a fire enter the test chamber, the electric current changes, setting off the alarm.
- Basic models can be very cheap ($10 or less).
- Ionisation models can be prone to nuisance alarms from cooking, so shouldn’t be located near a kitchen.
- They're best suited to detecting fast-flaming fires that give off little visible smoke. However, most domestic fires tend to be smoky, smouldering fires, and ionisation alarms aren’t as quick at detecting these.
- While the amount of radioactive material in each alarm is too small to be a health hazard, there is a waste disposal issue. One alarm on its own contains a tiny amount, but thousands of alarms together make a significant amount of radioactive waste. Ionisation alarms therefore have rules about how you must dispose of them — check with your local fire brigade.
Photoelectric Smoke Alarm :
- These contain a photo cell and a light beam shining away from the cell. When smoke enters the test chamber, some of the light is scattered by the smoke particles and hits the cell, triggering the alarm. Photoelectric alarms are best at detecting smoky and smouldering fires.
- Dust or insects entering the alarm can cause false alarms, so they have to be cleaned occasionally. Most modern smoke alarms have insect screens to help prevent this problem.
Other types of alarm available for domestic use include :
- Carbon monoxide
- Heat alarms
Which smoke alarms are best.
Recent studies show photoelectric smoke alarms could be the best choice for a home.
However, Victoria state regulations only specify whether your alarm should be mains or battery-powered. They don’t specify the type of alarm you should install; any Australian Standards-approved ionisation or photoelectric alarm will comply.
SMOKE ALARM SERVICING
When do the smoke alarms in a rental property have to be inspected and checked?
Under the legislation, the smoke alarms must be inspected/checked within 30 days BEFORE any tenancy change or tenancy renewal. It is not 30 days before or after, it is before the tenancy change or renewal.
Are home owners required to service alarms in their own property?
No. The legislation for the servicing of smoke alarms is aimed at rental properties, not owner-occupied properties.
Can landlords undertake their own inspections and servicing of smoke alarms in their owned rental properties?
Yes they have this right. It is strongly recommended, however, that a specialist Smoke Alarm service provider be used. The complexities of positioning alarms to ensure the property complies with the Building Code of Australia and having the knowledge to ensure the smoke alarms are fully functional can be difficult for the average landlord. For instance, can the landlord check that the power supply is actually connected to the 240v alarm? Can the landlord check the decibel output of the alarm and that it is in the required range? Can the landlord check the manufacture and/or expiry date of the alarm? Can the landlord always ensure that the alarms are checked within 30 days before every tenancy change or renewal? There could be significant outcomes for the landlord if a fire should occur and the property is not compliant or the alarms have not been serviced in accordance with the legislation. Additionally, the landlords insurance on the property may be void if a failure to comply with all legislation is proven. It is far better risk management for a landlord to employ a specialist to ensure compliance and to protect their valuable asset and the lives of the occupants.
The legislation specifically PROHIBITS a landlord from transferring the servicing requirement to the tenant.
Why can't the servicing be done by my Property Manager?
Real Estate Agents and Property Managers have been warned by their Insurers that servicing smoke alarms is outside the scope and experience of a Property Manager, and should a problem occur, then their insurance may not cover them. For this reason, most Property Managers very wisely will not take on this responsibility.
ANNUAL MAINTENANCE SERVICE
What is the cost of servicing smoke alarms in a rental property?
We will ensure that your property complies with the regulations, and that your tenancy change/renewal responsibilities are fully met. For a set cost of $145.00 per year per property, we will attend the property to assess compliance and undertake the required maintenance in accordance with Australian Standard AS1851.15. We will re-attend the property during the year whenever there is a tenancy change or renewal, or a problem with a smoke alarm, at no additional cost, regardless of how many times in a year we are asked to attend the property. This one low cost is for any type of residential property, regardless of the type and number of smoke alarms in the property. We do not charge extra for replacing batteries.
Do you provide a Compliance Report?
We provide a detailed Inspection and Compliance Report after every visit to the property. This is the landlords Risk Management document which proves that the property has met the requirements of all legislation regarding smoke alarms. In our comprehensive data base, we have a complete servicing history, including the type of every alarm, whether is it Ionisation or Photoelectric, its manufacture and/or expiry date, its exact position, its last service date, its next service date - plus much more, even down to information such as whether the tenant was home when we attended the property.
Are faulty smoke alarms removed from the property?
Any faulty smoke alarm is removed from the property. The only time a faulty smoke alarm is not removed is when its removal would leave significant and obvious paint damage (e.g. If the ceiling has been painted blue, but behind the smoke alarm it hasn't been painted and is white).
Are expired smoke alarms removed from the property?
If the expired smoke alarm is in a necessary location, it will be replaced, and therefore removed. If the alarm is in a non-essential location (e.g. lounge room), has expired, but is still in good working condition, we will leave the alarm in place.
Ask yourself - what would happen if you as the Property Manager, or the person/company you appointed to service smoke alarms makes a mistake and there is a fire with major damage and/or loss of life? Quite possibly, you could be held responsible (and sued) for negligence, or you could be held responsible (and sued) because you failed to undertake effective due diligence on your choice of service provider.
If you don't ensure that your service provider has in place Professional Indemnity Insurance, you are literally playing with fire. YOU are running the risk that you and potentially your owners may be held responsible for the mistakes of others.
Our strongest advice is that if your current service provider does not have Professional Indemnity Insurance - stop using them immediately.
We can provide you with electronic or hard-copy documents to make your task as simple as possible, including draft Letters to Landlords, Authorisation Forms, Fact Sheets for Landlords, Price Lists etc. Our whole service is designed to make it is a simple and time-saving for you, and anything we can do to assist in this regard, we will.