Smoke Alarm Positioning in the Home

Smoke Alarm Positioning in the Home

What You Need to Know About Smoke Alarm Positioning in the Home

Smoke alarms are an integral part of all homes in Australia. However, they are not always installed in the correct spots. Tenants’ lives are at risk when smoke alarms are installed in areas where smoke cannot reach them. Therefore, Queensland has strict regulations around the positioning of smoke alarms in the home, as outlined in the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008. These regulations must be adhered to – to protect your tenants and your landlords. If smoke alarms are found to be in the wrong position, then landlord’s insurance can be rendered void in the event of a house fire.

Dead Air Space
Dead air space is the greatest reason why smoke alarms must be placed in specific areas of the home. Dead air space refers to the spaces in which air becomes trapped as there is no air circulation – making it impossible for smoke to reach the area. Dead air space occurs in ceiling and wall corners as well as at the apex of a cathedral style ceiling. For this reason, smoke alarms must:
•    Not be installed within 300mm of the corner of the ceiling and a wall.
•    If installed on a sloping ceiling the alarm must be between 500mm and 1,500mm from the apex of the ceiling.

The diagram below demonstrates suitable locations for smoke alarms.

Source: NCC 2016 Building Code of Australia - Volume Two pg. 279.

Home Devices
Smoke alarms must also not be installed near home devices that could interfere with the sensor of the alarm. Therefore, smoke alarms must:
•    Not be within 400mm of the blades of a fan or air-conditioning vents.
•    Not be within 300mm of light fittings.

Smoke alarms should be installed on ceilings to get the best results. However, sometimes this is impractical as the alarm may be too close to cooking fumes or the steam from the shower which can cause false alarms. In this case, smoke alarms can be installed on walls, but they must be between 100mm and 300mm from the ceiling and more than 300mm from the corner of 2 walls.

Asbestos Materials
If a ceiling contains asbestos it is best to install the smoke alarm on a non-containing asbestos wall instead. Although, installing a smoke alarm on asbestos is not illegal there are strict guidelines around the handling and disposal of all contaminated material after installation. Working with asbestos can also put our technicians’ and your tenants’ health at risk.

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