NEW LAWS TO BE PUT BEFORE PARLIAMENT IN QUEENSLAND
Making Queensland’s Smoke Alarm Compliance laws the most stringent in AUSTRALIA
Below is an excerpt from the Findings of the Inquest into the Slacks Creek House Fire, 60 Wagensveldt St, Slacks Creek
Legislation should be put in place as soon as possible the effect of which is such that all places where people sleep should be provided with early warning of a fire occurring at a sound level capable of waking them. That is a minimum of 75 Decibels at the bed head. To enable this to be achieved the legislation should provide:-
That as a minimum in all areas of a building where people sleep, approved smoke alarms are installed: –
a) in any storey containing bedrooms
i. between each part of the dwelling containing bedrooms and the remainder of the dwelling and in every bedroom; and
ii. where bedrooms are served by a hallway, in that hallway, and
b) in any other storey not containing bedrooms, and
c) in the case where there is more than one alarm required they shall be interconnected by hard wiring where possible and by wireless signal where hard wiring is impractical.
The above implementation should take a staged approach to allow homeowners to prepare for the changes. After the commencement of the legislation, homeowners are required to ensure the new legislative requirements are met in the following circumstances:
· If a dwelling does not have smoke alarms, or does not have smoke alarms that comply with the current legislation, the new legislative requirements must be met immediately [or alternatively, within a stipulated period of grace of, say, 6 or 12 months];
Findings of the Inquest into the Slacks Creek House Fire, 60 Wagensveldt St, Slacks Creek
-30 – When smoke alarms cease to operate when tested or are at the end of their useful life (10 years from manufactured date);
· If the owner enters into a contract to sell the dwelling, the day before the date of settlement;
· With respect to rental properties, before any new tenancy commences, and within 12 months of the commencement of the legislation in the case of existing tenancies.
· The current legislative requirements continue to apply until the new requirements are met in accordance with this staged approach.
An approved smoke alarm for these purposes means a photoelectric type smoke alarm that complies with Australian Standard AS 3786(Smoke Alarms) and:
a) If installed in a newly constructed domestic dwelling, is a 240 volt hard wired smoke alarm, or
b) If installed in an existing domestic dwelling in addition to, or replacing existing smoke alarms, a 240 volt hard wired smoke alarm where access is available to the ceiling space or, otherwise, a 10 year lithium battery smoke alarm which is interconnected wirelessly, to all other required smoke alarms in the dwelling. It is important that all smoke alarms are interconnected so that if one alarm is triggered all the remaining alarms also operate. This will only be possible if all alarms are the same type and are compatible with each other. It is also important to say that smoke alarms are only part of the process to ensure people escape to a point of safety from their burning home. A practiced Escape Plan is the other critical component of safe evacuation. It is also
– 31 – recommended that the importance of smoke alarms and other safety requirements such as an Escape Plan be well publicised by QFES and Government. It is hoped that by the full implementation of these recommendations a tragedy such as this will never again occur. James McDougall South-eastern Coroner