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Where to install a smoke detector?

Choosing the right spot to install a smoke detector in your home can be the difference between evacuating safely and a horrible tragedy. To take the guesswork out of correctly placing the smoke detectors through your home we recommend consulting a professional smoke alarm technician.

The unique design of each home means that what works for one may not be the best spot for another, which is where your professional smoke alarm technician can help. They’ll know the specific smoke alarm legislation for your state as well as the fire safety industry recommendations for your building type.

QLD smoke alarm legislation

In Queensland, the revised Smoke Alarm Legislation has specific requirements for where smoke detectors are placed throughout your home.

Where to position smoke detectors in your home

The QLD smoke alarm legislation states that smoke alarms need to be installed:

  • On each storey of your home
  • Inside each bedroom
  • In hallways which connect the bedrooms and the rest of the house
  • If your home does not have a hallway between the bedrooms and house the alarm must be positioned between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey/house
  • If a storey does not have bedrooms at least one detector needs to be located in the most likely path of travel to exit the building.
Smoke alarm placement low set home
Smoke alarm placement for a low set house - image QFES
Smoke alarm placement multi storey home
Smoke alarm placement for a multi-storey house - image QFES
Smoke alarm placement bedsit
Smoke alarm placement for a bedsit (shaded area) - image DFES
Smoke alarm placement unit
Smoke alarm placement for a unit (shaded area) - image DFES

Why do you need to install a smoke alarm in a bedroom?

Smoke alarms make a lot of noise, often you can hear them several houses away, so why do we need to install one in the bedrooms?

Installing smoke alarms in bedrooms means that every person in your home receives the earliest possible warning of a fire, even if they’re in deep sleep, playing loud music, or have the door closed.

It’s been proven that when you go to sleep so does your nose, so relying on your sense of smell to alert you to a fire while you’re sleeping is a big mistake.

Interconnecting the alarms throughout your home so that when the alarm in the kitchen is activated (unattended cooking is one of the leading causes of fire in the home) every smoke alarm in the house will trigger the siren.

Installing smoke alarms in the kitchen

As mentioned above around half of house fires start in the kitchen so it would make sense to install a smoke alarm or two in that room. However, in most cases, smoke alarms in the kitchen are too effective. Repeated false alarms from cooking fumes or steam can lead to residents removing batteries, covering alarms, or taking them down altogether.

To prevent false alarms it’s recommended that smoke alarms are installed near but outside the kitchen, often in the hallway.

If you would like to have a fire warning system in your kitchen installing a heat alarm is a good idea.

Installing smoke alarms on sloped ceilings

The Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 (QLD) states that ‘if the smoke alarm is installed on a ceiling that slopes - must be in an area of the ceiling that is between 500mm and 1,500mm from the apex of the ceiling’ . Plus it must not be within 300mm of a light fitting or within 300mm of a corner of the ceiling and a wall.

If the alarm is installed in a stairwell it must not be located where smoke rising in the stairwell will not reach the alarm due to an obstruction.

The alarm must also be installed more than 400mm away from an air conditioner, forced air ventilation (exhaust fan), or the blades of a ceiling fan. All of which can prevent smoke from reaching the smoke alarm.

Where to install a smoke alarm:

In a bathroom or laundry - to reduce false alarms from the steam which is common in bathrooms and laundries it is recommended that smoke alarms are located away from these areas in a hallway or common area.

In a garage - fire warning systems are needed in every part of the home, garage included. Either a photoelectric smoke alarm or a heat alarm can be installed in the garage.

If you have ceiling fans - smoke alarms need to be installed at least 400mm from the blades of a ceiling fan to ensure the fan does not obstruct smoke from reaching the detector.

If you have downlights - smoke alarms must be installed at least 300mm away from light fittings, including downlights.

If you have air conditioning - installing smoke alarms at least 400mm away from the airflow created from an air conditioning system ensures that the smoke is not blown away from the alarm, hampering detection. This includes split system air conditioner units, ducted air conditioning vents and air return grill, and evaporative cooling vents.

References - https://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=9200 , https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/sl-2008-0160#statusinformation , https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/fireinthehome/Pages/installingsmokealarms.aspx , https://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/fireinthehome/FireintheHomeFactsheets/DFES-Smoke-Alarm-Fact-Sheet5-Installing-Smoke-Alarms.pdf https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/community-safety/smokealarms/documents/QFES-InfoSheet-SAInstall.pdf

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