The Building Code of Australia (BCA) requires every property to install smoke alarms. It is done not only to save lives, but also to prevent significant fire damage to properties as well. As stated in BCA, Class 1 and 2 buildings are required to have a 240 volts main power supply smoke alarm. However, large buildings with no available main power connection are required to have smoke detectors with a 10-year shelf life that is connected to a permanent battery.
Smoke detectors are the first line of defense against fire. They are devices that sense smoke and initiate a warning alarm.
There are 2 kinds of smoke detectors:
- Household smoke detectors or smoke alarms; and
- Commercial smoke detectors.
When the presence of smoke is detected, the former provide localised alarms, while the latter issue a signal to the fire alarm system’s control panel to provide zoned or whole building alarms. The detection of smoke and initiation of a fire alarm provide warning to occupants to evacuate in times of emergencies. Thus, smoke alarms need to be maintained properly to make sure they are in good working condition at all times.
While maintenance of commercial smoke detectors are to be undertaken by licenced contractors in accordance with AS1851, the maintenance of smoke alarms may be performed by the householder, and are included in the product’s manual guide. In each state and territory, the regulatory authority, eg QFES in Queensland, also provide recommendations on the maintenance routine for these devices. Their recommendations are as follows:
- Alarm Sounder - Regular checking of the alarm sounder should be performed at least once a month. This routine will also familiarise building occupants of the smoke detector’s sound, which will prepare them in case of an emergency. The battery should also be included in the checking and should be changed annually. Smoke detectors will emit a beeping sound when battery should be replaced.
- Routine Maintenance -DFES recommends that when performing routine maintenance, it should be in accordance to the product’s manual guide. If users are not certain, it is best to contact the supplier or manufacturer for detailed instructions.
- Annual Cleaning - A regular schedule for thorough cleaning of the device should be done as well. The use of a brush or vacuum cleaner is recommended to remove particles that will affect its performance.
It is also important to note the following:
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