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Smoke alarms save lives – But did you know they have a lifespan of 10 years?


The cool weather is here and heaters are coming out of storage to keep us warm this winter. At this time of year there is also an increase in the use of clothes dryers which is another concern when it comes to fire safety around the home. Are your smoke alarms in good working order?

Most of us are aware that since 2006 legislation requires NSW residents to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home. This legislation relates to owner occupiers, rental properties and any other residential dwellings where people sleep. What a lot of people don’t realise is that all types of smoke alarms (battery operated or hard wired) should be replaced every 10 years.

Where can I purchase a smoke alarm?

  • Your local hardware store
  • Lighting stores
  • Some department stores & supermarkets carry battery operated smoke alarms

Who can install smoke alarms?

All hard wired smoke alarm units must be installed by a licensed electrician. Battery operated units can be installed by the home owner or a handyman.

Smoke alarm maintenance

NSW Fire & Rescue recommend the following maintenance:

  • Monthly – Test to make sure that the alarm is working
  • Six Monthly – Clean smoke alarm with a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust particles which may affect the smoke alarm. Battery operated smoke alarm 9V lead batteries should be changed twice a year.
  • Yearly – If the smoke alarm has an alkaline battery it should be changed yearly.
  • Every 10 Years – All types of smoke alarm units should be replaced every 10 years due to the loss of sensitivity to detect smoke. Refer to Fire & Rescue NSW website information below to find out the age of your smoke detector unit.

Replace your smoke alarm with a new unit every 10 years. Smoke alarms do not last forever and the sensitivity in all smoke alarms will reduce over time. All types of smoke alarms should be removed, replaced and disposed of every 10 years. To assist in identifying the age of smoke alarms the AS3786 standard requires a serial number or batch number (Clause4.1(c)). This is usually done as a batch number e.g. 2406 may mean that the product was manufactured in the 24th week of 2006. Some manufacturers place the date of manufacture on the smoke alarm and some now place the expiry date on the smoke alarm. The batch numbers or dates are usually on the base of the smoke alarm near the battery compartment.”

The Fire & Rescue NSW website has some great information to assist you in deciding where it is best to position your smoke alarms and what types of alarms are suitable. For more detailed information, visit http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/.

Stay safe this winter.

Belinda Flanagan

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June 24, 2015 |

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