What You Need to Know About Smoke Alarm Positioning in the Home

Installing an Alarm 2Smoke alarms are an integral part of all homes in Australia. However, they are not always installed in the correct spots. Tenants’ lives are at risk when smoke alarms are installed in areas where smoke cannot reach them. Therefore, Queensland has strict regulations around the positioning of smoke alarms in the home, as outlined in the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008. These regulations must be adhered to – to protect your tenants and your landlords. If smoke alarms are found to be in the wrong position, then landlord’s insurance can be rendered void in the event of a house fire.

Dead Air Space

Dead air space is the greatest reason why smoke alarms must be placed in specific areas of the home. Dead air space refers to the spaces in which air becomes trapped as there is no air circulation – making it impossible for smoke to reach the area. Dead air space occurs in ceiling and wall corners as well as at the apex of a cathedral style ceiling. For this reason, smoke alarms must:

  • Not be installed within 300mm of the corner of the ceiling and a wall.
  • If installed on a sloping ceiling the alarm must be in an area that is between 500mm and 1,500mm from the apex of the ceiling. 

The diagram below demonstrates suitable locations for smoke alarms.

Dead Air Space
Source: NCC 2016 Building Code of Australia - Volume Two pg. 279.

Home Devices

Smoke alarms must also not be installed near home devices that could interfere with the sensor of the alarm. Therefore, smoke alarms must:

  • Not be within 400mm of the blades of a fan or air-conditioning vents.
  • Not be within 300mm of light fittings.

Walls

Smoke alarms should be installed on ceilings to get the best results. However, sometimes this is impractical as the alarm may be too close to cooking fumes or the steam from the shower which can cause false alarms. In this case, smoke alarms can be installed on walls, but they must be between 100mm and 300mm from the ceiling and more than 300mm from the corner of 2 walls.

Asbestos Materials

If a ceiling contains asbestos it is best to install the smoke alarm on a non-containing asbestos wall instead. Although, installing a smoke alarm on asbestos is not illegal there are strict guidelines around the handling and disposal of all contaminated material after installation. Working with asbestos can also put our technicians’ and your tenants’ health at risk. Smoke Alarm Solutions has adopted a best practice approach and has eliminated the hazard altogether by not disturbing asbestos.

When installing smoke alarms it is important to choose a provider who is familiar with the legislation to ensure alarms are installed in the right spots. Smoke Alarm Solutions has uncovered an epidemic where different providers are installing alarms to the wrong measures – rendering properties non-compliant. These alarms need to be removed and reinstalled which can be costly for your landlords. Make sure to do your research and pick the right provider the first time.

To find out more about smoke alarm compliance, visit our QLD Legislation page here.