The Fire and Emergency Services (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Amendment Act 2016 which came into effect on 1 January 2017, has resulted in various amendments being made to the principal legislation dealing with fire safety in Queensland, namely, the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 (‘Act’). 

The amendments to the present legislation have been made as a result of a concentrated effort to reduce the number of fatalities from fires in Queensland, which presently tallies at approximately 150 deaths in the past 12 years. Recommendations which were made by the state coroner in relation to the horrific deaths of 11 people in a single house fire in Slacks Creek in 2011 were also taken into account when the suggested amendments were being drafted.

While there are several provisions contained in the amended Act which commenced on 1 January 2017, there are other provisions which are set to come into effect on a sliding scale over the next 10 years, with some commencing from 1 January 2022 and the remainder commencing from 1 January 2027.

From 1 January 2017

Existing Dwellings

In relation to existing dwellings (and/or dwellings being sold/leased or an existing lease is renewed) – any smoke alarm being replaced from 1 January 2017 is to be replaced with a ‘photoelectric’ smoke alarm which complies with Australian Standard 3786-2014.

In addition to the above, if a smoke alarm was:

  • manufactured more than 10 years ago (smoke alarms should have a date of manufacture stamped on them); or
  • a smoke alarm does not operate when tested;

then the smoke alarm must be replaced immediately with a photoelectric smoke alarm.

If the existing smoke alarm was hardwired and it needs to be replaced in accordance with the new legislative provisions, then the replacement smoke alarm must also be hardwired.

New Dwellings / Substantial renovations for existing dwellings

Where new dwellings are being built, or substantial renovations are occurring to existing premises, the development approval processes have been updated to ensure that, from 1 January 2017, the dwellings will be compliant with the stringent new laws, namely, smoke alarms within a new dwelling or a dwelling which is being substantially renovated must:

i)                   be photoelectric (AS 3786-2014);

ii)                  not also contain an ionisation sensor;

iii)                 be less than 10 years old;

iv)                 operate when tested;

v)                  be interconnected with every other smoke alarm in the dwelling so all activate together;

vi)                 be hardwired to the mains power and have secondary power source (i.e powered by a non-removeable 10 year battery).

In addition to the above, smoke alarms will be required to be installed on each storey of a dwelling, and:

a)                  in each bedroom;

b)                  in hallways which connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling;

c)                  if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms and other parts of the storey;

d)                  if there are no bedrooms on a storey at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.


From 1 January 2022

Dwellings that are being sold/leased/or where an existing lease is renewed have until 1 January 2022 to comply with the stringent new requirements as detailed above at items i) – vi) and a) –  c), however the smoke alarms can either be hardwired or powered by a non-removeable 10 year battery.

From January 2027

Home owners of an existing dwelling have additional time to get organised and comply with the legislation, and the strict smoke alarm requirements don’t come into effect until January 2027 (provided they don’t sell or lease the property in the meantime).

The same requirements as those applicable to Dwellings that are being sold/leased/or where an existing lease is renewed will apply to existing dwellings from 1 January 2027.

Other Requirements

There are various other requirements for the installation of smoke alarms, so if you have a specific query in relation to your existing property, or if you have concerns about a property you are considering purchasing or leasing, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced property law team today on 07 5563 8970.