Smoke alarms in almost every room under new Queensland legislation

By Simonne Auer

Every Queensland home will need to have photoelectric, inter-connected hard-wired smoke alarms in bedrooms, living areas and escape paths by 2027, under new legislation introduced in Parliament.

Police Minister Bill Byrne said after 150 house fire deaths in the past 12 years and recommendations from the state coroner after the Slacks Creek fire, which robbed two families of 11 people, including eight children – the greatest loss of life in an Australian domestic house fire – something had to be done.

Photo: Ken Robertson

“While we are unable to change these tragic events, we as a government can implement strategies for the future that can help prevent such tragedies from occurring,” he said.

“We can pass laws that can increase the chances of families safely escaping their homes and surviving, but ultimately it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure our own safety and that of our loved ones.”

The legislation will mean all domestic homes will have to install “additional smoke alarms in every bedroom, between areas containing bedrooms, in any hallway servicing bedrooms and in any other storey of a residential dwelling”.

The alarms would also have to “be interconnected and either hard-wired or powered by a 10-year lithium battery” and meet minimum performance standards “with photoelectric type smoke alarms acting as the performance baseline”.

Photoelectric smoke alarms ‘see’ the smoke “by detecting visible particles of combustion and react more quickly to smouldering fires”. They are considered to be more reliable and less likely to produce false alarms, such as what occurs when toast burns.

A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services campaign is proposed to run to explain the changes.

“It is anticipated that the campaign would particularly target vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly, people with a disability and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,” Mr Byrne said.

“To reduce the risk of unscrupulous tradespeople operating in the marketplace, it is also proposed to include messaging about the importance of using a licensed electrician to hard-wire and interconnect smoke alarms.”

Mr Byrne said he expected bipartisan support when it came to passing the bill. Homeowners will have until 2027 to adhere to the changes, once the legislation had passed.

Jarrod Bleijie, Mr Byrne’s Opposition counterpart, said the LNP had already moved to address the issue.

“The LNP supports the introduction of photo-electric smoke alarms in Queensland homes, which is why we introduced legislation in December 2015 in an attempt to make them law,” he said.

“Labor could have saved time by simply supporting the LNP’s laws, rather than playing petty political games.

“It’s disappointing that once again the Palaszczuk Labor Government is frozen at the wheel, playing second fiddle to the LNP on mental health, smoking laws, protection for firefighters and now smoke alarms.”

Brisbane Times 23.2.16

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