Smoke alarm laws fact sheet
Government of Western Australia
Department of Commerce
Smoke alarm laws
The laws regarding smoke alarms
The Building Regulations 2012 (the Regulations)
require the owner of a dwelling to have compliant
smoke alarms installed:
• prior to the transfer of ownership;
What residential buildings require
smoke alarms?
The Regulations apply to the following residential
buildings as classified in the BCA:
• where a dwelling is rented under a residential
tenancy agreement or made available for
such rental;
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.
• where a dwelling is made available for hire.
Class 1b – Includes the following:
What is a compliant smoke alarm?
To comply with the Regulations, owners must
ensure that the smoke alarm(s):
a) are in accordance with the Building Code
of Australia (BCA) applicable at the time of
installation of the alarms* (the BCA specifies
the minimum standards and location that
smoke alarms must comply with); and
b) are not more than 10 years old at the time
of the transfer of ownership, or making the
dwelling available for rent or hire; and
• 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.
Class 2 – Dwellings such as apartments and flats
in a building containing two or more units.
Class 4 – A residential unit in a non-residential
building if it is the only dwelling in the building
eg a caretaker’s residence.
c) are in working order; and
d) are permanently connected to consumer
mains power.
*Please note: dwellings approved for
construction prior to 1 May 2015 do not have
to comply with the BCA requirement for smoke
alarms to be interconnected.
It may be useful for the people involved in the
rental or hiring of a dwelling to document when the
smoke alarms will need replacing.
www.commerce.wa.gov.au/buildingcommission
 1300 489 099
2
Smoke alarm laws
Are battery powered smoke alarms
permitted?
i) has not reached its expiry date if one is
provided on the alarm; or
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.
ii) is not more than 10 years old if no expiry
date is provided on the alarm.
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).
It is unlawful to install battery powered smoke
alarms just because it is more convenient to
do so. For example, where a two-storey dwelling
is permitted the use of a battery powered smoke
alarm because the ground floor ceiling is concrete,
the owner must not (for the sake of convenience)
install a battery powered smoke alarm on the
upper floor ceiling where there is sufficient roof
space to run the electrical wiring.
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 have back-up batteries).
Requirement to maintain certain
smoke alarms
• Smoke alarms should never be painted.
The Regulations require owners, who make their
dwellings available for rent or hire, to:
Are there penalties for noncompliance?
a) ensure that each alarm installed in the dwelling
is in working order; and
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.
b) if an alarm was, at the time of its installation,
required to be connected to the mains power
supply, ensure that the alarm:
i) is permanently connected to the mains
power supply; or
ii) if the alarm is to be installed at a location
in the dwelling where there is no hidden
space in which to run the necessary
electrical wiring and there is no appropriate
alternative location — has a 10 year life
battery that cannot be removed; or
iii) if, in relation to the alarm, the use of a
battery powered smoke alarm has been
approved under the Regulations, the alarm
must have a 10 year life battery that cannot
be removed; and
What are the smoke alarm
requirements for new dwellings?
New dwellings require smoke alarms as part of
their building permit (ie the construction of a new
dwelling or certain alterations and additions to
an existing dwelling). The builder named on the
building permit is responsible for ensuring that
smoke alarms are installed in accordance with the
approved plans and specifications associated with
the building permit.
c) ensure that each alarm installed in the
dwelling —
www.commerce.wa.gov.au/buildingcommission
 1300 489 099
3
Smoke alarm laws
Do smoke alarms need to be interconnected if there is more than one alarm?
For new dwellings – Please refer to Industry Bulletin 40 on the Building Commission website.
For existing dwellings subject to sale, transfer of ownership, rent or hire – Please refer to Industry
Bulletin 41 on the Building Commission website.
Contact for further information
Issue
Contact
Non-compliance by owners.
Relevant local government.
Smoke alarms as part of a building permit.
Relevant local government permit authority.
A registered building surveyor responsible for the certification of the building plans.
To find a registered building surveying contractor visit
www.commerce.wa.gov.au/buildingcommission
Smoke alarm laws; smoke alarm
maintenance or fire safety.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services on 9395 9816 or visit
www.dfes.wa.gov.au
View Building Regulations 2012
Visit the State Law Publisher website at www.slp.wa.gov.au
This publication is available in alternative formats upon request.
Disclaimer – The information contained in this fact sheet is provided as general information and a guide only. It should not be relied upon as
legal advice or as an accurate statement of the relevant legislation provisions. If you are uncertain as to your legal obligations, you should obtain
independent legal advice.
www.commerce.wa.gov.au/buildingcommission
 1300 489 099
DP0457/2011/ August 2014/ Online
Department of Commerce
Building Commission
Level 1, 303 Sevenoaks Street
Cannington WA 6107
Post
Locked Bag14
Cloisters Square WA 6850
Facsimile (08) 6251 1501
National Relay Service 13 36 77
Email [email protected]
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