Security screens on fire doors

Firstly and importantly – Fire and Rescue New South Wales advise against the fitting of security screens to fire doors, although it really is a BCA compliance issue.

There are several issues with security screens…

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Fire Rated Ceilings: A resident’s guide

Can I install downlights, ducted air conditioning, ceiling exhaust fans or manholes in my unit ceiling?
Well yes… but you need to be very careful if your ceiling designed to have a “resistance to the incipient spread of fire to the roof space for a period of not less than 60 minutes”.
Fire rated ceilings are an fire safety measure, designed to slow the spread of fire from one part of the building to another.

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Passive Fire Protection

Passive Fire measures are designed to stop (or slow) the spread of fire from one part of the building to another. Most buildings have Passive Fire protection measures – even if they are not specifically listed on the AFSS.

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Emergency Lights

In an emergency situation emergency lights should run on their backup battery for at least 90-minutes. Australian Standards require that exit & emergency lights be tested every 6 months. Exit and emergency lights have a shorter lifespan when compared to non-emergency lights.

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10 year old smoke alarms

Civil Fire strongly recommends that smoke alarms are replaced when they are 10 year old. Why?

  • Old smoke alarms can be affected by insects, humidity, dust built up and aging components.
  • Technology improves over time, so a new smoke alarm is likely to improve safety and reduce the occurrence of false alarms.

But do smoke alarms actually need to be replaced when they reach 10 years old? Well that depends…

If you’re a landlord…

If you’re a landlord, then you are bound by the Residential Tenancies Act & Regulation. This legislation was amended in 2020 to make replacement of 10 year old smoke alarms mandatory.

Landlords or managing agents often engage a specialist smoke alarm company to fulfil their obligations under this legislation, as it is slightly more onerous than the requirements under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation.

If you’re an owner occupier…

This is where things get a little bit murky.

Firstly, for use in Australia, smoke alarms must be manufactured to  AS3786. The current version AS3786 – 2015  clause 4.1 states:

smoke alarms shall have a recommended service life of at least 10 years under normal conditions of use.

So smoke alarms must be designed to last at least 10 years under normal use, but there is nothing stopping manufacturers from designing alarms that last longer than 10 years.

Then there the manufacturer’s specifications  (the little piece of paper that comes in the box with a new smoke alarm).

Many manufacturers’ specifications state that the alarm should be replaced every 10 years whilst others offer no firm statement or simply “recommend replacement”. This varies from brand to brand, and model to model.

The final piece of the puzzle is AS1851-2012.  This is the standard for the maintenance of fire equipment, and whilst many people think it is best practise, it is NOT law in NSW.

This standard says that the smoke alarm should be replaced when the service life date is exceeded. The service-life would be taken to mean the life set by the manufacturer in their specifications.

For Annual Fire Safety Statements…

Whether or not 10 year old smoke alarms require replacement would be a decision for the Accredited Practitioner (Fire Safety) endorsing smoke alarms.

Civil Fire’s Accredited Practitioners (Fire Safety) view 10 year old smoke alarms as a recommendation item only. Whilst it is strongly recommended these alarms are replaced, as long as the smoke alarms are found to be capable of performing on the day of inspection, then our Accredited Practitioners will endorse the measure.


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