Will more stringent smoke alarm legislation be passed in NSW?

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Homeowners and landlords in New South Wales are worried that they too will have to make costly changes to become complaint with proposed new smoke alarm legislation. A few months ago, Queensland passed new legislation that required homes to be fitted with photoelectric interconnected smoke alarms in all bedrooms as well as hallways.

According to Smoke Alarm Solutions (SAS), a national smoke alarm compliance company, current legislation in New South Wales requires at least one operational smoke alarm on each level of the occupancy. These occupancies could be owner-occupied or rental homes, caravans, relocated homes, or any building where people sleep.

Similar legislation existed in Queensland as well. However, following a tragic house fire which claimed the lives of eleven people in 2011, legislation in the state has become a lot more stringent to provide a greater level of safety.

“The additional measures include smoke alarms to be installed in every bedroom of a home by a qualified electrician. They also need to be interconnected with one another so that they all sound when smoke is detected,” said Julieanne Worchurst, national sales and marketing director at SAS.
 
Worchurst said there are currently no plans for similar smoke alarm legislation in New South Wales. Hence, landlords and homeowners don’t need to be too concerned about future additional expenses.
 
“A crucial part of the current NSW legislation forbids tenants to remove the battery or otherwise tamper with the smoke alarms.  This is to prevent families inadvertently breaking them or forgetting to replace the smoke alarm battery and switch it on,” Worchurst said.
 
“Normally, there is no reason for a tenant to tamper with the smoke alarms, and they don’t, but sometimes the alarm starts to sound accidentally (eg. when cooking) or it starts to beep, indicating the battery needs to be replaced.”
 
In such a scenario, the required action is for the tenant to contact their property manager, who will arrange for a qualified electrician or smoke alarm technician to attend to the property and resolve the issue.
 
“The only time this is a problem is when it occurs in the middle of the night, a public holiday or on a weekend, when the property manager is not working.  With few other options, families may attempt to stop the alarm sounding themselves. However, under no circumstances should this happen, because of the danger it places on the lives of those who live there.”
 
“On the other hand, families shouldn’t have to stay awake during the night [because of] a beeping alarm, waiting for the property manager to start work so they can report it. This is why we launched our 24/7 Emergency Service, which ensures attendance to alarms outside of business hours.”


Related stories:
Landlords, Not Just Tenants, Need To Understand Responsibilities
Landlords Urged To Speak Up In Tenancy Legislation Review
 

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