The 10-year smoke alarm anniversary

Tuesday, 12 October, 2021

The 10-year smoke alarm anniversary

Building and fire safety authorities in WA are reminding home owners that all smoke alarms should be replaced when they are 10 years old.

Building & Energy and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) are urging people to check the dates on their smoke alarms and arrange for new ones to be installed if they have expired.

The 10-year replacement applies to all smoke alarms, including hard-wired models connected to the mains power.

The call comes during October 2021, which marks the 10th anniversary of the requirement under WA’s Building Regulations that any dwelling being sold, rented or hired must have compliant smoke alarms.

Installation, maintenance and replacement of smoke alarms is the responsibility of the property owner, not the tenants.

“The manufacture date or the expiry date should be marked on the smoke alarm,” said Building & Energy Acting Executive Director Nabil Yazdani.

“If the smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, or you can’t find the date, it’s time to replace it to ensure it operates effectively when you need it the most. Australian Standards stipulate an operating life of 10 years, after which the alarm’s sensitivity and functions can decline.”

DFES Deputy Commissioner Strategy and Emergency Management Mal Cronstedt AFSM said homes with more than one smoke alarm should have their system interconnected.

“Having interconnected smoke alarms means when one alarm detects a fire, all alarms will sound throughout the property, giving you as much warning as possible of an emergency,” said Cronstedt.

“If your home was built since 1 May 2015 you are required by law to have interconnected smoke alarms. Only working smoke alarms can save lives, so it is crucial you take the time to check, maintain or replace your alarm to ensure the safety of your household.”

Yazdani said Building & Energy has published an updated fact sheet about smoke alarm laws for established dwellings including applicable Australian Standards, location requirements, maintenance and options for non-habitable areas.

“A replacement hard-wired smoke alarm must be installed by a licensed electrical contractor and comply with electrical and building regulations,” he said.

DFES advice for testing and maintaining smoke alarms includes:

  • Monthly: Hold down the test button until you hear a loud alert tone, then release. Carefully use a broom handle if you cannot reach the button.
  • Yearly: Vacuum around your smoke alarm vents with a soft brush attachment to remove dust and cobwebs. Use a surface insect spray around the smoke alarm, but do not spray inside the alarm.
  • For smoke alarms that use a 9 V battery, a handy date for replacing this battery each year is 1 April. Check the alarm manufacturer’s instructions to find out which battery it uses and when it needs replacing.

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