Fire safety at home

Smoke alarms

Under Northern Territory (NT) law, approved smoke alarms must be installed in all residential premises or movable dwellings. This includes caravans.

Home owners must test each smoke alarm at least once every 12 months.

Tenants are required to test each smoke alarm at least once every 12 months and advise the owner or agent if an alarm does not work.

Property managers or other nominated persons may act on behalf of an owner to maintain, test or replace alarms.

Find out more about Territory laws on smoke alarms at the NT Fire and Rescue Service website.

Approved smoke alarms

An approved smoke alarm is a photoelectric type smoke alarm that is either hardwired to your home's power supply or has a sealed lithium battery unit with a 10-year life.

Hardwired smoke alarms must be installed by a licensed electrician.

Battery-powered smoke alarms can be manually installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Smoke alarms in public housing

Your smoke alarm is a sealed unit with a 10-year battery life. It will be replaced on expiry by the Department of Housing.

If you have any queries contact your tenancy manager.

Read more about fire safety and smoke alarms in your public housing home.

Buying, selling or leasing

If you are selling or leasing your property, you must install an approved photoelectric smoke alarm.

It is the tenants’ responsibility to keep these alarms in good working order.

If you own a home

Home owners with non-approved smoke alarms installed do not have to replace these alarms until they stop working.

You can choose to replace your alarms sooner but this is not a legal requirement.

If your home was built before 7 January 1998 and you don’t have smoke alarms installed, you need to install an approved photoelectric smoke alarm.

All homes built after 7 January 1998 should already be fitted with hardwired smoke alarms.

If ionisation alarms have been installed, you do not have to replace them with hardwired photoelectric alarms until:

  • the ionisation alarm ceases to function
  • the premises is sold or rented
  • a tenancy agreement for the premises is renewed or extended
  • a hire agreement for the premises is entered into, renewed or extended.

Best places to install smoke alarms

Smoke alarms should be installed between each bedroom area and the rest of the house. Alarms should be installed inside any bedroom where someone sleeps with the door shut.

They should be installed on or near the ceiling, with special care taken to avoid:

  • the top of cathedral ceilings
  • the corner junction of walls and ceilings
  • between exposed beams where there may be a dead air space.

If it is not practical to install the smoke alarm on the ceiling, it may be installed on the wall between 300mm to 500mm below the ceiling.

For cathedral ceilings, install the alarm between 500mm and 1500mm from the highest point to the top of the alarm.

Multilevel homes and properties

If you are installing smoke alarms in a multilevel home or property, install an additional alarm in the stairway between each level.

For houses with a common hallway, install smoke alarms:

  • between the kitchen and living areas
  • in the common hallway that connects all bedrooms
  • inside any room where someone sleeps with the door closed.

Since 1 May 2014 there is a requirement for new or renovated homes under the National Construction Code that, where there is more than one alarm, they be interconnected.

Tips to prevent false alarms

To cut down on false alarms you should:

  • check your toaster setting before use
  • not walk away from a toaster
  • not smoke near smoke detectors
  • not spray aerosols at smoke detectors
  • be careful when doing work that creates dust, heat or smoke
  • open windows and use fans to control steam and fumes, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen
  • make sure your visitors know there is a fire alarm system.

To read more about managing false alarms go to the NT Fire and Rescue Service website.

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Last updated: 10 May 2018

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