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Smoke Alarms

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Only working smoke alarms save lives.

Why should I have a smoke alarm?

If you don’t have a working smoke alarm installed in your home, and a fire occurs, you are:

  • 57% more likely to suffer property loss and damage
  • 26% more likely to suffer serious injuries
  • Four times more likely to die.

When you‘re asleep you lose your sense of smell. A smoke alarm is your electronic nose. It will alert you if there is smoke from a fire. A small fire can grow to involve an entire room in just two to three minutes. A smoke alarm provides early warning and time to escape.

Smoke Alarms are compulsory in every home.

Since 1 August 1997, Victorian law states that smoke alarms (complying with Australian Standards AS3786) must be installed in all homes, units, flats and townhouses. It is the responsibility of all owners and landlords to install working smoke alarms.

Residential homes constructed before 1 August 1997 need only standalone, battery powered smoke alarms. Residential homes constructed after 1 August 1997 must have smoke alarms connected to 240 volt mains power. These smoke alarms must also have a backup battery installed in the smoke alarm in case there is a loss of power.

All fire services in Australia recommend the installation of photoelectric smoke alarms that meet Australian Standards (AS3786) when installing or replacing existing smoke alarms.

Tips to keep your smoke alarm in working order:

  • Test your smoke alarms once a month. The alarm should produce a loud  “beep, beep, beep” sound when you press the test button
  • Clean your smoke alarms at least once a year by using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Gently clean dust around the outside cover.
  • Replace all smoke alarms, both battery powered and hardwired, every 10 years. The manufacturing year will be printed on the smoke alarm if you are unsure of its age.
  • If your smoke alarm is powered by a replaceable battery, use long-lasting 9V alkaline batteries and replace them annually.

Waiting until the smoke alarm beeps before you change the battery is too late - this indicates that the battery is already flat, and your family is not protected.

Renters and Landlords

It is the landlord’s responsibility to install and maintain smoke alarms within their properties.

It is the renter’s responsibility to:

  • Test the smoke alarm every month to make sure it is working.
  • Contact their agent/landlord if the smoke alarm is not working
  • Contact their agent/landlord if the smoke alarm omits an occasional chirping noise as this means the battery or unit itself is faulty.

Smoke alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing

A specialised smoke alarm is available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Due to the cost of this type of smoke alarm, the Department of Human Services may be able to provide financial assistance via a subsidy. For more information go to Vicdeaf Smoke Alarm Subsidy webpage.


Profoundly deaf people can apply for a smoke alarm subsidy to help cover the costs of visual and vibrating smoke alarms.

For further details visit the VicDeaf website.

What to do when a smoke alarm goes off

It is vital you know what to do if a fire occurs. Follow these simple rules to plan how you would escape a fire in your home and practice it with the whole family.

  1. Get down low and stay out of smoke
  2. If it’s safe, close doors on your way out to slow down the spread of fire and smoke.
  3. Alert other people on your way out by shouting “get out
  4. Get out and stay out
  5. Meet at a safe place such as the letterbox outside of your home
  6. Call 000 (triple zero) from a mobile phone or a neighbours phone. Ask for FIRE

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