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.
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.
Smoke Alarms - Frequently Asked Questions
In NSW all residential units regardless of year of construction must be provided with a working smoke alarm as directed by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 Division 7a Clause 186A. The locational requirements for smoke alarms are dictated to us by this regulation.
Where do smoke alarms need to be installed?
Clause 186A states that smoke alarms must be:
- Compliant with Australian Standard AS3786 and
- Installed in any storey containing bedrooms – in every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom, and if there is no such hallway, between each part containing bedrooms and the remainder of the dwelling – on or near the ceiling, and
- Installed in any storey not containing bedrooms – on or near the ceiling.
Depending on the layout of the unit, it may be necessary to have more than one smoke alarm installed to meet the requirements of the legislation.
Figure 1. Single level unit, with bedrooms together
Figure 2. Single level unit, with bedrooms separated
Figure 3. Multi-level unit with bedrooms on top floor only
The smoke alarm should also be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.
These specifications can differ drastically from brand to brand, but most recommend that a clear space of 300mm is maintained around smoke alarms (lights, walls and beams), and at least 400mm clearance should be maintained from ceiling fan blades and other air moving equipment.
Do I need a battery or mains-powered smoke alarm?
This comes down to when the building was built.
240V smoke alarms became mandatory in BCA 1990 Amendment 6 which was introduced in 1994. Therefore, all buildings built after 1994 are required to have 240V smoke alarms installed.
Buildings built prior to 1994 can have battery-powered smoke alarms unless a DA, CDC or fire order requires 240V smoke alarms.
If the building submits an AFSS it is easy to confirm if 240v smoke alarms are required for that property. If the standard of performance for smoke alarms includes “BCA” or “E2.2a” or “E1.7” or “NCC” then smoke alarms are required to be 240V.
Should smoke alarms inside my unit be interconnected?
Again, this comes down to when the building was built, or if a DA, CDC or Fire Order has been completed at the building.
BCA 2014 made interconnected smoke alarms mandatory. Older buildings that have been through a fire order / DA / CDC after 2014 may also be required to have interconnected smoke alarms.
If the fire safety schedule contains a year reference to NCC / BCA 2014 onwards you can be sure that the alarms need to be interlinked. Often the original certifier does not specify the reference year on the fire safety schedule, and as such an assessment of the age of construction may be requried.
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