Queensland becomes national leader in smoke alarm legislation

Published Wednesday, 31 August, 2016 at 11:42 PM

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services
The Honourable Bill Byrne

Queensland households will be the safest in the country after new smoke alarm legislation was passed in Parliament today.

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Bill Byrne said the legislation followed recommendations handed down after the 2011 Slacks Creek fatal house fire.

“The absolute tragedy we saw at Slacks Creek where 11 people died is an incident we never want repeated and this legislation ensures people will be alerted to house fires as early as possible,” Minister Byrne said.

The legislation specifies that every Queensland residence will need to be fitted with photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms in all bedrooms, as well as hallways of residences.

“By having the alarms interconnected, it won’t matter which part of a house a fire might start in, the alarm closest to you will sound and if you are asleep, an alarm will sound in your room, even if the area is closed off to the rest of the house,” Minister Byrne said.

“Research shows that photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms are the most effective on the market for alerting people to fires early.

“I am proud Queensland is now the national leader on this issue, making sure we are doing all we can to keep residents safe.”

Minister Byrne said a 10-year phased rollout of the legislation would allow ample time for everyone to have their alarms installed correctly.

“Hard-wired, interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms will require a qualified electrician to conduct the installation and ensure the alarms are working as they should be,” he said.

“There is an option to install photoelectric alarms with a 10-year lithium battery that have the capability to achieve interconnectedness wirelessly between alarms. This option may be more suitable for Queenslanders living in remote areas where attendance of an electrician could be difficult.”

All houses being built or significantly renovated will need to comply with the smoke alarm legislation upon completion after January 1, 2017. All houses leased or sold will need to meet compliance after five years and all owner-occupied private dwellings will need to comply with the legislation within 10 years.

Any smoke alarm being replaced after January 1, 2017 must be a photoelectric alarm.

Minister Byrne said although some residents would have up to 10 years to install the alarms, everyone should take action to update their alarm system as soon as possible.

“This technology is proven to save lives and the sooner it is in every Queensland home, the safer we’ll be,” he said.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) worked closely with the Palaszczuk Government to develop the legislation and Commissioner Katarina Carroll welcomed today’s announcement.

“This legislation is the strongest of its kind in the country,” she said.

“QFES has long recommended photoelectric, interconnected smoke alarms to be hard-wired into homes and the decision to mandate this is to be applauded.

“As Queenslanders make the change and update their smoke alarm system, we are also encouraging everyone to review their fire escape plans.

“When an alarm sounds, you need to know what you will do. Every household should have a fire escape plan and every person should know their role in that plan.

“You may have as little as 15 seconds to enact your fire escape plan, so make sure you sit down with everyone in your household and discuss your escape plan.

“Once you’ve had the discussion make sure you practice your plan. With a well-practised fire escape plan, you’ll stand a better chance of avoiding panic and getting everyone to safety during a house fire.” 

QFES has a free Safehome program where Queenslanders can request a visit from local firefighters who will advise them of the best locations for smoke alarms and suggest other fire safety initiatives around the home. To request a Safehome visit call 13QGOV or visit www.qfes.qld.gov.au/communitysafety/freeprograms/safehome



Minister Byrne’s office:      0400 622 433