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Why Queensland has new smoke alarm laws and how it will affect Queensland dwellings

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On 23 August 2011, a fire started on the ground floor of a house occupied by two families in Slacks Creek. The first of twenty- three 000 emergency calls were made at 12.04am on 24 August. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services was notified at 12.05am and arrived at the scene six minutes later. By the time they arrived, the house was already fully engulfed in flames.

This fire caused the greatest loss of life in a domestic house fire in Australian history. Eleven people lost their lives; eight were children. The fire devastated two families and has had a profound impact on the local community and the whole of Queensland.

In reviewing the circumstances that lead to the Slacks Creek fire, the State Coroner made two recommendations:

1. That legislative amendments be made to mandate the installation of photoelectric and interconnected smoke alarms in every bedroom, between areas containing bedrooms, in any hallway servicing bedrooms and in any other storey of a residential dwelling. For new residences, the coroner recommended that the smoke alarms be hardwired, while in existing residences, smoke alarms may be hardwired or powered by a 10-year lithium battery.

2. That Queensland Fire and Emergency Services conduct ongoing awareness campaigns to promote the development of practised escape plans.

The new legislation supports both of these recommendations, in hopes of limiting tragedies like this.New state based legislation requires the following additional measures in Queensland rental properties by 2022 and for all other owner occupier dwellings by 2027.

• Smoke alarms must be installed in every bedroom of a home

• All smoke alarms must be powered by either 240 volt or 10 year lithium battery

• All smoke alarms must be interconnected to each other

• All smoke alarms must be photoelectric rather than ionisation

• All smoke alarms must meet new Australian Standard 3786:2014

Queensland Smoke Alarms are Master Electricians who specialise in Queensland Smoke Alarm Compliance. For more information visit www.queenslandsmokealarms.com.au or call 1800 LIVE SAFE (1800 548 372).

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