Did you know that there are roughly 3,000 house fires in Victoria annually? Most of these accidents could be prevented by taking simple precautions like installing smoke alarms.
However, there can be fatal consequences due to malfunctioning in smoke alarms. As a matter of fact, smoke alarms will not necessarily always save lives.
Therefore every household unit should take the necessary steps to install the fire alarms and maintain them regularly to ensure fire safety. This article will give a brief insight into smoke alarm installations and how to ensure fire safety with smoke alarms.
Why should you install smoke alarms?
Fire hazards can be fatal and affect your loved ones. Therefore you should take measures to avoid these hazards. One such measure is to install smoke alarms.
When the alarm detects smoke, it will ring and warn you about a possible threat. This will alert you to take immediate actions to put out the fire.
While smoke alarms can help prevent fire hazards, did you know that it is also compulsory to install smoke alarms in all residential units and buildings? Yes, it is a legal requirement to install smoke alarms on or near the ceiling of every storey in all residential buildings.
All residential buildings built or renovated after 1st of August 1997 must have hardwired smoke alarms with backup batteries. Hardwired means that smoke alarms should be connected to the 240-volts main supply. Hardwiring smoke alarms will increase their reliability and efficiency.
Homes constructed before the 1st of August 1997 were only required to have smoke alarms powered by batteries.
Therefore installing smoke alarms is crucial to improve your safety against fire and to comply with the law.
What type of smoke alarms do you need in Ballarat?
As you know, installing smoke alarms in every residential unit is a legal requirement. Therefore it is mandatory to install smoke alarms that meet the requirements as per “AS 3786” of the Australian Standards.
There are basically three types of smoke alarms that you could select from. These smoke alarms detect different types of smoke. Therefore their effectiveness in detecting smoke will vary from each other.
1. Photoelectric Smoke Alarms
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) recommend that photoelectric smoke alarms are one of the best options available in the market. These smoke alarms will predominantly detect visible smoke, including large particles in smouldering fires.
These alarms are more efficient and minimise the chance of false alarms.
2. Ionised Smoke alarms
These alarms will predominantly detect extremely small particles present in fast-flaming fires. These are less expensive, but there can be chances of false alarms.
3. Dual sensor Smoke alarms
These alarms are a combination of both photoelectric and ionisation smoke alarms. These alarms have shown to perform well across various ranges of fire conditions.
Whatever you select, you should remember that only a working alarm will save your life. Therefore make sure to follow the maintenance tips which are mentioned later in this article.
Different models of smoke alarms
There are various models of smoke alarms in the market. No, we are not talking about brands here. Basically, there are four main models that you can install.
- Alarms powered by 9-volt batteries (batteries that require annual replacement).
- Alarms powered by lithium batteries (batteries that will last for ten years).
- Alarms connected to the 240-volt main line and backed up by 9-volt batteries.
- Alarms connected to the 240-volt main line and backed up by lithium batteries.
How many smoke alarms should you install?
To be legally compliant, you should have at least one smoke alarm for every storey in your house. However, you should install multiple smoke alarms to protect your loved ones and your property.
Number of alarms installed, their positioned place, and interconnection of working alarms is more crucial to ensure the safety of the occupants and the property.
According to CFA, the most common place susceptible to fire is the kitchen. However, most fires that lead to deaths occurred within the bedrooms.
The CFA recommends that smoke alarms should be positioned in every bedroom and living room area to alert the sleeping occupants.
Further, these alarms should also be interconnected so that if one alarm is triggered, every alarm will sound at the same time. This is a mandatory requirement.
Smoke alarms should not be placed in kitchens and bathrooms to avoid false alarms. However, you can fix a smoke alarm closer to the kitchen and interconnect it with the rest.
How should you position the smoke alarms?
As said before, placing the smoke alarms correctly is as crucial as the number of smoke alarms to ensure your safety. These are the placement positions recommended by the CFA.
On the ceiling
It is ideal if the smoke alarm is placed in the centre of the ceiling. If you cannot place it in the centre, then make sure to place it at least 30cm (300mm) away from the wall.
On the wall
If you are placing it on the walls, make sure to place it 30-50cm (300-500mm) away from the ceiling to avoid dead air spaces.
On a sloping ceiling
Should place the alarm 50-150cm (500-1500mm) from the highest point.
When placing the smoke alarms, make sure to avoid these.
- Don’t place the alarms near air drafts. These are the doors, windows, and air ducts that pass out the air. This could affect the sensitivity of the alarm.
- Make sure that you avoid dead air spaces. If you place the alarm in a dead airspace, the smoke will not reach the alarm. Dead air spaces can occur near the corners of the walls and ceiling, the apex of a sloping ceiling. That is why the recommended distances are given above.
How should you maintain smoke alarms?
Installing smoke alarms alone will not ensure your safety. First of all alarms should be working, and then they should be working properly.
To ensure both of these, you should maintain the smoke alarms in time. So what should you do to maintain the smoke alarms?
1. Test the alarms monthly
It is important to check whether the alarm works at least once a month. You can press and hold the “test” button on your device until the alarm beeps. If it beeps, then the batteries are fine.
You should also check whether the alarm is still connected to the main supply. You can check it by observing the green light on the alarm. If it is on or blinking, then the alarm is receiving power. If the light is red, the alarm is not getting power from the main supply.
2. Dust the alarm annually
You should vacuum and clean the dust from the smoke alarm at least once a year. This will avoid false alarms and increase the efficiency of the alarm.
3. Change batteries annually
If you are using a 9-volt battery, make sure to check them every month and replace them every year.
If you are using a lithium battery, you should still check it every month. You can use it for around ten years.
4. Replace every ten years
Smoke alarms don’t last a lifetime. They should be replaced as per the instructions of the manufacturer. Generally, the smoke alarms should be replaced every ten years.
Why should you contact MJ Electrician for smoke alarm installation?
You must install new smoke alarms with the required licences and qualifications. They should be placed precisely and wired correctly to ensure your safety.
Therefore smoke alarms should be installed by a skilled electrician. We have been in the industry for so long and served the Ballarat community.
Our clients know we value their homes, pocket, and time. That is why we have been in business for more than 20 years and can understand your needs very well.
If you need to install smoke alarms in your home or the business place in Ballarat, feel free to contact us.