The Three Key Challenges Facing the Industry

Michelle ParsonsMichelle Parsons is the Chief Operating Officer at Smoke Alarm Solutions. Here she outlines the three biggest challenges being faced by the industry with regard to new smoke alarm legislation and the changes being confronted between now and 2022:

The first is time. Many of the people who will be impacted by the changes in legislation think that they have loads of time - but they don’t. Because the upgrade to smoke alarm systems doesn’t need to be in place until January 1, 2022 a lot of people plan to wait until 2021, based on the idea that surely 12 months is enough time. The problem is there are 566,000 properties that we need to upgrade and that’s just not enough time to do it.

If we start today, we’re looking at less than 700 working days until the deadline, which means 781 properties need to be upgraded every day! Smoke Alarm Solutions are the largest provider in the country and we need to triple our workforce today to meet the deadline. So the number one challenge for us is educating the market and getting everyone to understand that the industry really needs to respond now. We need landlords to understand their obligations and to work with us (and with industry bodies) to start upgrading properties today.

The second largest challenge we’re facing is awareness. There isn’t enough marketing in place at the moment to inform landlords of their obligations. And it’s not just about landlords. It’s also about electricians and suppliers within the industry. There’s a massive risk at the moment that electricians are going out and quoting for installations that aren’t meeting the upgraded requirements of the legislation.

So we need to educate not just the landlords, but the electricians and suppliers. Everyone really needs to understand the intricacies of the legislation so as to ensure that the right alarms are going in and that they’re going in where they need to be placed to meet the legislation. I think it will require all the industry bodies working together to make sure that electricians and providers are well educated and that landlords know the questions they need to ask to ensure they get the right alarms and are empowered to make the right decisions.

The third challenge for our industry is stimulating the market and getting landlords to understand why they should respond now. After all, we’re talking about safety. Smoke alarms save lives and, remember, the reason Queensland has introduced the new legislation is because an entire family lost their lives because they didn’t have smoke alarms in the house.

So, whilst the deadline is 2022, it’s really not much to pay to make sure everyone in the house your tenanting is going to be safe and that the smoke alarms will go off if there’s a fire. In fact, it’s more likely that prices are going to go up because, as demand increases, so will the price for the alarms and installation.

If everyone waits until the last year there aren’t enough electricians in the country to meet the demand, so we need to motivate landlords and property managers to respond now - whether that’s through incentives, interest free programs or providing options in terms of alarms (whilst keeping quality in mind).

It’s important for every homeowner in Queensland to recognise that, from 2022, when you sell your house you’re going to need to meet the new legislation and then, in 2027, every house in Queensland will need interconnected bedroom alarms.

So, why wait to keep your family safe? We should all be acting now.