Correct installation is vital
For minimum protection, install a smoke alarm outside each bedroom or sleeping area in your home. If you live in a house with more than one level, install a smoke alarm on each level.
It is preferable to have smoke alarms interconnected. Some types of smoke alarms can be interconnected to each other, so that if one alarm sounds the other alarms also activates.
Houses with a children's wing need interconnected alarms linking to an alarm near an adult's bedroom. Studies have shown 85 per cent of sleeping children do not wake to the sound of a smoke alarm.
It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure smoke alarms are installed in rental properties.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing smoke alarms.
On a ceiling
- The smoke alarm should be located in the centre of the ceiling. If it cannot be located here it should be located 300mm from any cornice or wall.
On a wall
- The smoke alarm should be located 300mm - 500mm from the ceiling.
On a cathedral ceiling or sloping ceiling
- The smoke alarm should be located 500mm - 1500mm from the highest point
- Avoid drafts: Do not install smoke alarms near windows, doors or air ducts where drafts could affect alarm sensitivity
- Avoid dead air spaces: A dead air space is an area in which trapped hot air will prevent smoke from reaching the alarm. This generally occurs at the apex of cathedral or sloping ceilings, the corner junction of walls and ceilings, and between exposed floor joists.
The Building Commission has further information on installing smoke alarms.
Remember to clean your smoke alarm!
Despite the regulations, research suggests only 45 per cent of properties attended by fire services had smoke alarms and, of those, 31 per cent were not working.
You can ensure your smoke alarm is constantly protecting your family by keeping it in good working order.
- Test it monthly by pushing the test button with a broom handle to make sure it beeps
- Dust the alarm with a vacuum cleaner brush
- Change the battery at least once a year. It's easy to remember if you do it when you adjust your clock for daylight saving.
Change Your Clock, Change Your Smoke Alarm Battery
At the end of daylight saving in March each year, change your smoke alarm battery with a long life battery when you change your clock. House fires occur more frequently during the winter months, and making sure you go in to winter with a working smoke alarm makes good sense.
If you have a hard-wired smoke alarm, these still have a battery as a back up and the battery needs to be changed as well.
Find the Your Home Fire Safety brochure in the Fire Safety page of the Publications section.
Smoke alarms don't last forever
Smoke alarms have a lifespan of about 10 years. After that, you should replace them.
Most smoke alarms have a use-by date printed on them. If your alarm is still beeping after you have changed its battery, it should be replaced with a photo-electric model.
Old smoke alarms can be safely thrown out with household rubbish.