The Building Regulations 2012 require owners to have mains powered smoke alarms fitted to all residential properties in Perth, WA that are subject to sale, rent or hire. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that;
What types of dwellings need to comply?
The Regulations apply to the following residential buildings as classified in the BCA:
Class 1a – A single dwelling being a detached house, or row houses, duplexes, town houses, terrace houses or villa units where attached dwellings are separated by a fire resisting wall.
Class 1b – Includes the following:
boarding houses, guest houses, hostels or the like in which not more than 12 people would ordinarily be resident and with a total area of all floors not exceeding 300m²; or
four or more single dwellings located on one allotment and used for short term holiday accommodation. This includes dwellings in tourist parks, farmstays, holiday resorts, cabins in caravan parks and similar tourist accommodation.
Are there penalties involved?
Yes, local governments have the power under the Building Act 2011 and the Regulations to either issue an infringement notice or prosecute an owner who fails to have compliant smoke alarms installed prior to selling, transferring ownership, renting or hiring the dwelling.
Are battery powered smoke alarms permitted?
Battery powered smoke alarms may be installed where consumer mains power is not connected to the dwelling or where there is no hidden space in the existing dwelling in which to run the necessary wiring for hard wired smoke alarms, for example where there is a concrete ceiling. The use of battery powered smoke alarms in any other circumstance must be approved by the local government (battery powered smoke alarms must have a non-removable 10-year life battery).
Will a smoke alarm in a home security system comply?
Smoke alarms that are powered through a home security system in dwellings that are subject to sale, transfer of ownership, rent or hire may not comply with the smoke alarm laws. While the home security system may be on 240 volt from the consumer mains power, a feed of 12 volt to the smoke alarm would not comply with the requirement for smoke alarms to be permanently connected to consumer mains power.
In other words, the power for the smoke alarms must be separate to the power source for the home security system and the smoke alarms permanently connected to consumer mains power.
Are there any exemptions for proposed demolition?
The current owner of a dwelling that is subject to transfer of ownership may choose not to install smoke alarms if the new owner intends to demolish the dwelling and has provided a declaration of intended demolition to the current owner before the transfer of ownership.
A declaration of intended demolition is a statutory declaration made by the person to whom the ownership is to be transferred (the new owner) declaring that the person intends to demolish the dwelling within six months beginning on the transfer day (being the day on which ownership is transferred).
If the property is not demolished, the new owner must install the required number of smoke alarms in the dwelling within six months of the transfer.
This does not remove the requirement for the new owner to install smoke alarms should he or she subsequently decide to rent or hire the dwelling after the transfer.
Who can install smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms required to be permanently connected to the mains power supply require a licensed electrician to either connect or disconnect the smoke alarm. Where the Regulations permit a battery powered smoke alarm to be fitted instead of one connected to mains power, a licensed electrician is not required to fit the battery powered smoke alarm.
Requirement to maintain smoke alarms
Owners who rent or hire their dwelling are required by law to maintain the smoke alarms. This includes ensuring the smoke alarm:
is in working order;
is permanently connected to mains power;
is less than 10 years old, or has not reached its expiry date if one is provided on the alarm; and
if the use of a battery powered smoke alarm has been approved under the Regulations, the alarm has a 10-year life battery that cannot be removed.
How to maintain smoke alarms
For smoke alarms to remain in working order they should be tested and maintained regularly. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services recommends the following maintenance routine:
Testing once per month to ensure the battery and the alarm sounder are operating.
Check the smoke alarm for any build-up of dust and cobwebs and clean with a vacuum cleaner at least every six months.
Vacuum with a soft brush attachment around the smoke alarm vents.
Use a surface insect spray around the smoke alarm to prevent insects nesting inside.
Replacing batteries annually (mains powered smoke alarms generally have back-up batteries).
Smoke alarms should never be painted.
The BCA requires smoke alarms to be interconnected where there is more than one alarm. However interconnection of smoke alarms is not applicable to a dwelling that was constructed on an application for a building permit made before 1 May 2015.
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