Smoke alarms in Tasmania, although we can associate winter as a peak time for house fires due to heating, the most common cause of house fires year-round is actually an act we do every day: cooking. It’s easy to get distracted by children throwing tantrums, your dog wanting to play or your favorite footy team on TV. Before you know it, your pots and pans are overheating and the flames are searing the ceiling.
Following cooking, heating, smoking indoors, faulty wiring, candles, and curious children are all common causes of house fires. Without a smoke alarm, it could be five, 10, 20 minutes before you remember your rissoles, or hours before you notice the faulty power board in the bedroom smoldering away. Not only does it endanger your life and those you love, but it could also mean the loss of precious items or property damage you can’t afford to fix.
The Residential Tenancy Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2012 (the Act) is in place to prevent these instances from going unnoticed. As a result, all Tasmanian residential rental properties are required to have functioning smoke alarms correctly installed and in specific locations within each property.
As of May 2016, it is a requirement for all smoke alarms to be either mains-powered or 10-year non-removable battery alarms. They must also meet the Australian Standard of AS 3786 or AS 1670.1.
Types of Smoke Alarms
It is required to install either a mains-powered or 10-year non-removable battery alarms in your residential rental property. There are two main types of domestic smoke alarms to choose from: ionisation and photoelectric.
Each alarm works in a different way to detect smoke;
Photoelectric smoke alarms respond to a variety of fires but are particularly responsive to smoldering fire and dense smoke – the most common type of fire in the home environment. In addition to this, they are not as prone to false alarms caused by cooking or steam in the bathroom and contain no radioactive material. Photoelectric alarms work by aiming a light source into a chamber. When smoke enters this chamber, it reflects the light onto a sensor which triggers the alarm.
Ionisation alarms, ‘smell’ the smoke through a small amount of radioactive material that lies between two electrically-charged plates within the device. When smoke passes between these plates, it interrupts the electrical current and sets the alarm off. Ionisation alarms are more sensitive to a flaming fire but can be slower to respond to smoldering fire and are known for false alarms from cooking or steam.
To learn more about smoke alarm options, click here.
While living in a rental property, a tenant has a responsibility to ensure smoke alarms are always working. It is their role to maintain the smoke alarm by:
Test and clean alarms, at least every six months, to ensure they are operational and free from dust, debris and damage;
Replace removable batteries that provide back-up for mains-powered alarms; and
Inform the property agent or landlord immediately if a fire alarm is not working. (If the alarm’s failure to function is due to removable batteries or the power supply, it is the tenant’s responsibility to fix these issues as soon as possible.
Mains-powered smoke alarms
Before a tenant moves into a property, the owner must ensure:
All alarms must be installed to mains power, functioning, free from any dust or debris and are still within their expiry period; and
Back-up batteries are installed, work effectively, and will not have reached or be within 30 days of their expiry date from the commencement of the tenancy agreement.
Ten-year non-removable battery powered smoke alarms
Before a tenant begins their occupancy, it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure all battery alarms are functioning, free from dust and debris and have not yet expired. If a 10-year non-removable battery alarm reaches its expiry date or stops working effectively during the tenancy, the owner must ensure the alarms are repaired or replaced. They must comply with the Australian Standard.
Placement of Smoke Alarms in Premises
Which rooms in a home should have smoke detectors?
In addition to the Act is the Residential Tenancy (Smoke Alarm) Regulations 2012 (the Regulations). These regulations require Australian Standard smoke alarms to be installed on or near the ceiling in specific locations in all tenanted homes. Premises are divided into four building classes:
Houses, townhouses, villa units (Class 1a);
Small guest houses and boarding houses up to 12 people (Class 1b);
Apartment and blocks of flats (Class 2);
Boarding houses (Class 3); and
Caretaker flats or residences above shops (Class 4).
Each class dictates the required location of alarms throughout each home, including in each corridor or hallway associated with a sleeping area. To discover in detail the locations smoke alarms need to be installed and for more information on smoke alarms in rental properties, click here.
Note: The information in this article is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. For full information on the Act and the Regulations, please refer to the Residential Tenancy Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2012 and the Residential Tenancy (Smoke Alarm) Regulations 2012.
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