It's the law to have working smoke alarms on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Smoke alarms can increase your chances of surviving a fire by up to 50 per cent. 

Who's responsible?

It is the homeowner's responsibility to install and maintain smoke alarms on every storey of their home and outside all sleeping areas. In rental properties, it is the landlord's responsibility to ensure their rental property meets smoke alarm rules and regulations.

It is against the law to remove the batteries or tamper with smoke alarms.

How to install a smoke alarm

Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions to install your smoke alarm. Test smoke alarms every month using the test button.

Choosing the right alarm

If you have an electrically powered alarm, you should have a battery backup in case there is a power failure.

Ionization alarms respond slightly faster to flaming fires.

Photoelectric alarms detect slow, smoldering fires. Photoelectric smoke alarms are a good choice for near a kitchen to prevent nuisance alarms.

Maintaining smoke alarms

Take the following steps to maintain your smoke alarms:

  • Test your smoke alarms every month
  • Change your batteries at least once a year and whenever the low battery warning chirps (when you change your clocks, change your batteries)
  • Vacuum your alarms to clean out dust at least once a year
  • For battery-operated alarms, open the cover of the alarm and gently vacuum the inside with a soft bristle brush
  • For electrically powered alarms, first shut off the power to the unit and then gently vacuum the outside vents of the alarm only (don't forget to turn the power back on and test the alarm)
  • Replace your smoke alarms every ten years

Nuisance alarms

Nuisance alarms are caused by smoke from cooking or steam from a shower. Never remove the battery or disconnect the power to deal with a nuisance alarm. Try moving the location of the smoke alarm, purchase a smoke alarm with a hush feature or replace ionization alarms located near the kitchen with photoelectric alarms.

To stop nuisance alarms caused by cooking:

  • Keep ovens and stovetop burners clean
  • Clean out crumbs in the bottom of toasters and turn down the setting
  • Use the fan on the range hood when cooking

Learn more about dealing with nuisance alarms.