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The Importance of Correct Smoke Alarm Placement

The previous building legislation required a minimum of two smoke alarms per property. With only two alarms in a dwelling, an occupier would only be made aware of the threat of the fire once it had actually reached the alarm.

The legislation changes as of January 1st, 2017 require residential rental properties in Queensland to have a photoelectric smoke alarm in every bedroom, in hallways that connect bedrooms and at least one on every storey of a multi level house, in the most likely route to exit.

A 3 bedroom, 2 storey house will likely need 5 smoke alarms, possibly more depending on floor layout.

To ensure safety, smoke alarms must be positioned correctly. To maximise smoke alarm operation, avoid installation in the following positions:

  • In dead air space. This is an area in which trapped hot air will prevent smoke from reaching the alarm. This space generally occurs at the apex of cathedral ceilings, the corner junction of walls and ceilings, and between exposed floor joists.
  • Near windows, doors, fans or air conditioners. Excessive air movement may prevent smoke and gases from reaching the smoke alarm or cause nuisance alarms.
  • In or outside of the bathroom as steam may cause nuisance alarms.
  • In insect infested areas, as insects flying into the alarm could cause nuisance alarms.

Smoke alarms must not be placed:

  • within 300mm of a corner of a ceiling and a wall;
  • within 300mm of a light fitting;
  • within 400mm of an air-conditioning vent;
  • within 400mm of the blades of a ceiling fan.

There are special requirements for stairways, sloping ceilings, and ceilings with exposed beams. Specific requirements are explained in the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008.