+61 2 9418 7750 d.hall@buildreport.com.au

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. Properly functioning smoke alarms can save lives as shown in our photographs.

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It is also current legislation that houses for sale must include smoke alarms prior to the sale of the property.

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 in 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.


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.


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 be viewed for more information on smoke alarms, type available and location.


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.