Is there any Guidelines for Smoke Alarms?


These guidelines have been produced in a combined effort from NSW Rural Fire Services and NSW Health. When fire occurs in your home, your chances of survival are twice as good when smoke alarms are present. Smoke alarms, when properly installed and maintained (following the manufacturers instructions), provide early warning when fire occurs. Early warning increases your chances for survival.


Follow the manufacturers instructions

  • On a Ceiling The smoke alarm should be located in the centre of the ceiling. If it can not be located here it should be located 300mm from any cornice or wall.
  • On a Wall The smoke alarm should be located 300mm to 500mm from the ceiling.
  • Avoid Drafts Do not install smoke alarms near windows, doors or air ducts where drafts could affect alarm sensitivity
  • Avoid Dead Air Spaces A dead air space is an area in which trapped hot air will prevent smoke from reaching the alarm. This generally occurs at the apex of cathedral or sloping ceilings, the corner junction of walls and ceilings, and between exposed floor joists.


For your protection, install a smoke alarm outside each bedroom or sleeping area in your home. If you sleep with your bedroom doors closed, also install a smoke alarm in your bedroom. Also, as a minimum, if you live in a house with more than one level, install a smoke alarm on each level. An additional alarm above the staircase will detect fire early if occupants are on the first storey. Properly maintain your smoke alarm. Test them at least once each month to ensure that the alarms are working properly. Change batteries in battery operated alarms at least once yearly or earlier if alarm indicates. To help you remember, change batteries on a notable date, for example on your birthday or when daylight saving starts or ends each year. Use only battery type recommended on the alarm. If smoke from cooking materials causes the alarm to sound do not remove the batteries or disconnect the power source. You may have a real need for the alarm before you remember to replace the batteries. Simply fan the smoke away from the alarm until the alarm stops. If this happens frequently, it may be necessary to relocate the alarm or to install a different type of alarm. Develop an escape plan and review the plan frequently with all members of the family. Ensure keys for deadlock are easily accessible. Be aware that children and elderly people may need some special assistance should fire occur. To ensure that everyone escapes safely establish a meeting place, outside the house, perhaps by the letterbox, for all members of the family. When fire occurs, get out of the house and use a neighbours phone to call the fire brigade on 000. Do not return to the house.


It is recommended that the smoke alarm you buy carries the Australian Standard Number 3786.


  • Models which sound alarms in all connected units
  • Special models for use in kitchens and in caravans
  • Models incorporating an emergency light are available
  • Models for the hearing impaired
  • Hardwired smoke alarms with battery back up


  • Department stores
  • Hardware stores
  • Electrical retailers
  • Fire Protection Companies
  • Caution is advised in dealing with telephone canvassers and door to door vendors of smoke alarms

For further information Ring NSW Fire Brigades Fire Safety Division on 02 7427400

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