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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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Smoke alarms are life-saving devices, capable of detecting smoke well before it would be detected by a sleeping occupant. This is why smoke alarms are compulsory where people sleep - in houses, other accommodation buildings, and moveable dwellings such as caravans.


Smoke alarms have been mandatory in certain newly constructed buildings in NSW since the early 1990’s. This was expanded in 2006 to require smoke alarms in all existing homes and other shared accommodation buildings in NSW where people sleep.


The importance of smoke alarms was highlighted by a house fire in Sydney on 16 April 2012 (see video on the right hand side of the page). 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.


The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 was expanded in 2011 to also make smoke alarms compulsory in caravans, campervans and other moveable dwellings where people sleep.


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


This sequence of images highlights 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.


The legislation requires all NSW residents to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of the premises. This includes owner-occupied homes, rental properties, relocatable homes, caravans, moveable dwellings 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.

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 Fire and Rescue NSW 

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 CSIRO Activfire 

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 NSW Fair Trading

Page last updated: 29/07/2019