Interconnection of smoke alarms in residential buildings
Requirements for a building permit
Building surveyors and builders are reminded that mains powered smoke alarms located inside new residential buildings (being Class 1 buildings, sole-occupancy units in Class 2 or 3 buildings and Class 4 parts of a building) are required to be interconnected where more than one alarm is required to be installed within the dwelling or unit. This requirement has been in place for buildings where the building permit application was lodged with the permit authority on or after 1 May 2015.
Certifying building surveyors should be satisfied that the relevant plans and specifications contain sufficient information on smoke alarm requirements relevant to the particular building including for a deemed-to-satisfy solution:
- mains power connection;
- correct location for smoke alarms;
- interconnection requirements; and
- compliance with AS 3786.
Builders should ensure the electrical contractors install smoke alarms in accordance with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
Requirements for transferring ownership, renting or hiring a dwelling
Under the Building Regulations 2012, dwellings approved or constructed before 1 May 2015 still need to have compliant smoke alarms prior to transfer of ownership, rent or hire, however the smoke alarms do not need to be interconnected.
New standard for residential smoke alarms
The BCA 2016 adopted the 2014 edition of Australian Standard AS 3786 on 1 May 2016 which superseded the 1993 edition. The adoption of the 2014 edition in the BCA came with a 12 month transition period allowing the use of the 1993 edition of AS 3786 up to and including 30 April 2017.
This means all new Class 1 buildings and sole-occupancy units in Class 2 or 3 buildings and Class 4 parts of a building, where the application for a building permit is lodged on or after 1 May 2017, need to be fitted with smoke alarms that comply with AS 3786:2014 (Incorporating Amendment No. 1) – Smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light or ionization.
This requirement to comply with AS 3786:2014 will also apply to any installation of smoke alarms from 1 May 2017 in dwellings subject to transfer of ownership, lease or hire in Western Australia including any replacement smoke alarms in leased or hired dwellings where the smoke alarms are no longer in working order, or are more than 10 years old. This does not trigger a requirement to replace existing compliant alarms.
Smoke alarm identification
Building practitioners, owners and electrical contractors should be looking for an AS 3786:2014 marking on the new smoke alarm to ensure it is in accordance with the relevant standard as a smoke alarm manufactured under AS 3786:1993 – Smoke alarms, will no longer be a BCA deemed-to-satisfy product from 1 May 2017.