Maintaining Smoke Alarms..... Who's Responsible?

In 2009 it became compulsory in WA for mains powered smoke alarms (hard wired) to be installed by an electrician in all properties prior to the sale of a building, when dwellings are rented out or when a new tenancy agreement is signed for a rental property or renewal. Though this legislation is statutory, it is unintentionally overlooked by many agents and property owners.

 

 

To clarify it states in the legislation (Local Government (Miscellaneous provisions) act 1960, Building Amendment Regulations 2009 part 10A Section 38P) that smoke alarms must remain in full working order, permanently connected to the mains power supply and not reach their expiry date.

The law is administered by the Fire and Emergency Service Authority (FESA) which recommends ensuring that smoke alarms are maintained and in working order in case a fire should occur. Many people are not aware that smoke alarm sensors can overtime become blocked, damaged due to insects, dust particles or other foreign objects, or simply just become faulty. Pushing the test button may signal the alarm but it does not mean the alarm is functioning correctly. It is a good way to see if the smoke alarm has a live current, but that is all it does. Therefore it is mandatory that property owners or their agents have the alarms serviced annually.

Photoelectric alarms are recommended by FESA over ionisation smoke alarms. They may be slightly more expensive but the photoelectric alarms react better to smouldering fires, carbon monoxide (the silent poisonous killer) and are less prone to react to regular ''nuisance'' false alarms. WA regulations place the responsibility of maintaining the smoke alarms on the owner of the property or the organisation that manages the property, but that does not mean those responsible will have the proper knowledge on how to maintain the smoke alarm correctly.

That is why using an experienced service provider is beneficial. Having professional alarm service helps ensure that all smoke alarms are working correctly on the property and they are installed in the effective location. Hopefully, the experts may help reduce the risk liability. Some offer full property reports, automated renewals and remember annually so the agents don't have to. The repercussions of losing lives due to inaction are unimaginable for something so simple. REIWA also recommends that comprehensive reports are kept on the maintenance and inspections for each property so that should a problem occur, there is a history of smoke alarm maintenance for the property.

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