Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are life-saving devices, capable of detecting smoke well before it would be detected by a sleeping occupant. This is why the NSW Government has taken steps to make smoke alarms compulsory where people sleep - in houses, other accommodation buildings, and moveable dwelling such as caravans.

Since 2006, smoke alarms have been mandatory in NSW in all homes and other shared accommodation buildings where people sleep.

The legislation has since been expanded to also make smoke alarms compulsory in caravans, campervans and other moveable dwellings where people sleep. These changes took effect on February 25, 2011. 

The importance of smoke alarms was highlighted by a house fire in Sydney on 16 April 2012. The occupants of a home at Hebersham were woken by a smoke alarm, which is credited with saving their lives. The occupants were able to escape the house, before it was engulfed in flames and destroyed.

Smoke alarms in caravans and moveable dwellings

On February 25, 2011, changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation came into effect, making it mandatory for smoke alarms to be installed in moveable dwellings where people sleep. This includes caravans, campervans, holiday vans, park van annexes and associated structures.

Owners of moveable dwellings were given six months to install smoke alarms to comply with the regulation.

Commencing on August 25, 2011, on-the-spot fines of up to $200 (or up to $550 if the matter proceeds to court) can now be issued to the owner of any moveable dwelling that does not have a working smoke alarm installed.

Penalties also apply for people who remove or interfere with a smoke alarm already installed in a caravan or mobile home.

Caravans and campervans typically have limited escape options in the event of a fire, along with lightweight and combustible fittings.

Slide show highlighting how quickly a fire can take hold in a caravan.

From 1999 to 2010, Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters attended more than 692 fires involving moveable accommodation vehicles, which resulted in 12 deaths and another 72 injuries.  

Information on smoke alarm requirements for caravans and moveable dwellings

Smoke alarms in houses and accommodation buildings

Smoke alarms have been mandatory in newly constructed buildings in NSW since 1996. NSW Government regulations which came into effect on May 1, 2006, expanded this to existing buildings, making it mandatory for smoke alarms to be installed in all homes and other places people sleep.

The legislation requires all NSW residents to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home. This includes owner-occupied homes, rental properties, relocatable homes or any other residential building where people sleep.

Smoke alarms are life-saving devices, capable of detecting smoke and providing early warning to a sleeping occupant. They provide critical seconds to escape the building and take actions to save property. Smoke alarms are designed to detect fire smoke and emit a loud and distinctive sound to alert occupants of potential danger.  

Information about smoke alarms in houses and accommodation buildings

Further information

Fire and Rescue NSW - provides information for the community, including the types of alarms available and their maintenance, and advice for landlords, tenants, the aged and people with hearing impairments. See www.fire.nsw.gov.au.

CSIRO Activfire website - provides consumers and fire safety advisers with details of smoke alarms that have been verified as conforming with requirements of Australian Standard AS 3786-1993, the NSW Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 and related regulations, along with a list of suppliers. See http://www.activfire.gov.au/smokeAlarms.asp.

NSW Land and Property Management Authority - for information regarding the vendor's obligations when selling property. See www.lands.nsw.gov.au.

NSW Fair Trading - for information about changes to fair trading laws, which affect landlords and tenants, owners and residents of residential parks, strata scheme lot owners, and operators and residents of retirement villages. See here

Last Updated 05-Dec-2013