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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New residential tenancy laws come into effect on 23 March 2020.


Landlords & Agents must ensure:

  • Checks are carried out annually to ensure smoke alarm is working (cl 42.2 of Schedule 1 Standard Form Agreement).
  • Smoke alarm batteries are replaced every year, or for lithium batteries, in the period specified by the manufacturer (cl 20b).
  • Smoke alarms are replaced within 10 years of manufacture (cl 20a).
  • Defective smoke alarms are repaired or replaced within 2 business days (cl 14), although an exemption is granted if the residence is a lot in a strata scheme AND the smoke alarm is hardwired or battery-operated but the OC is responsible for it.
  • At least 2 business days’ notice is given to inspect smoke alarms, and at least 1 hours’ notice to repair or replace a smoke alarm (cl 13).

Tenants must notify their landlord or agent:

  • If they discover that a smoke alarm is not working (this includes when the battery needs to be changed) (cl 43.1 of Schedule 1 Standard Form Agreement)..
  • When they change a battery in a smoke alarm or engage a licensed electrician to repair or replace an alarm (cl 15.2)

Responsibilities in strata blocks

Civil Fire's role

Civil Fire is engaged by the Owners Corporation to fulfil building owner responsibilities under the Environmental Planning & Assessment Regulation. 

Civil Fire is not – by default – engaged to fulfil owners obligations under the Residential Tenancy Regulation. Whilst we inspect smoke alarms annually, we DO NOT change batteries in smoke alarms (unless a specific agreement is in place), and we do not issue certificates of compliance for individual units following an inspection unless we are engaged by the Owner or the Owners Agent to do so.

Engaging Civil Fire

For $75 + GST an Owner or Owner’s Agent can engage Civil Fire to change the removeable battery in the smoke alarm during the annual inspection, and provide a certificate of compliance (any defects found with the smoke alarm will require rectification before the certificate is issued). 

To engage Civil Fire for this service, please fill out the below form. Once we receive your request, we’ll send you an invoice. Payment will be required in advance of the inspection.

Dedicated smoke alarm inspectors

Landlords & Agents may choose to engage a dedicated smoke alarm inspector (E.g. Detector Inspection, or Smoke Alarms Australia) to fulfil their specific obligations under this legislation.

Even if a dedicated smoke alarm inspector is engaged, Civil Fire is still required to inspect required smoke alarms inside the residential units for the purpose of providing an AFSS. Unfortunately for the tenants, this means that 2 smoke alarm inspections are required each year.


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