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Smoke Alarm Legislation…… Why? Who? How?

The new smoke alarm legislation has been a hot topic amongst body corporates lately with a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of why the legislation has changed, who is responsible for the changes and how can a body corporate implement the changes.

With a deadline looming (only 8 months away) it is recommended that body corporates take charge and ensure that their building is compliant and ready for the changes by 1st January 2022.

Many body corporates have agreed to engage a service provider to conduct the changes throughout the entire building. This not only ensures every unit in the building is compliant, but it is also economical with huge savings due to the ability to “bulk buy”, as well as giving all owners peace of mind that the job is getting done.


  • Why has the legislation changed?

The tragic loss of eleven lives including eight children due to a house fire that occurred in 2011 at Slacks Creek, Brisbane has bought about the changes and the new smoke alarm legislation. A number of recommendations concerning increasing the legislative requirements regarding smoke alarms were made at the inquest.


It is hoped that by the full implementation of these recommendations a tragedy such as this will never again occur”

James McDougall, South-eastern Coroner

Coronial Findings – Slacks Creek House Fire, Brisbane 28th November 2014


  • Who is responsible?

The strata community has a diverse group with owner occupiers, landlords, and managers all owning a piece of the pie with a majority being members of the body corporate. With this in mind it is essential you know who is responsible to make sure your unit and the common areas of the building are compliant.

What is a Body Corporate?  A body corporate is a legal entity which is created when land is subdivided and registered under the Land Title Act 1994 to establish a community titles scheme. All of the owners in a community titles scheme are automatically members of the body corporate when they buy their lot.

If you are an owner, a business, or a person, that is occupying, or managing a building in Queensland, you have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of any person in that building in the event of a fire or other emergency.

When replacing smoke alarms, they must be of a photoelectric type which complies with Australian Standard (AS) 3786-2014.

Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than ten years ago must be replaced. (Note: Smoke alarms should have the date of manufacture stamped on them.)

Smoke alarms that do not operate when tested must be replaced immediately. Existing hardwired smoke alarms that need replacement must be replaced with a hardwired smoke alarm.


  • How can a Body Corporate achieve compliance for their building?

A Body Corporate may agree to collectively organise the legislative requirements by engaging a service provider to complete the service for the entire property. This will not only ensure compliance but will guarantee uniformity throughout the entire building and give everyone peace of mind knowing that the building is compliant, and your asset is smoke alarm ready.

To help with how your body corporate can achieve compliance the below link is a great read published on November 26th, 2019 by Archers the Strata Professionals. This article also has Q&A’s that will hopefully clear any misconceptions you may have.

It is important to engage a company who will provide you with a qualified leading service that will ensure your systems are operating safely, are fully compliant and work efficiently into the future.

Remember that all fire protection equipment and systems are only as good as the level and quality of maintenance that is provided, a proactive body corporate will ensure your building will be compliant giving every owner peace of mind knowing that a tragedy similar to the Slacks Creek Fire will not happen in their building.



Understanding the new smoke alarm legislation, legislative requirements, and the required time frame will not only make sure your property is compliant but more importantly it will ensure you and the body corporate that you are a part of have contributed to the safety of all occupants in the building.


By 1st of January 2022, you must ensure your property smoke alarm system is renewed and deemed compliant!


Article contributed by Margo Grant, Business Development Manager of Boss Building Maintenance

Leave a Reply

  1. Philip

    Good information, but it is still not clear – is the Body Corporate responsible for compliance with the new laws, or is the responsiblity of each lot owner?

    1. Margo Grant

      Hi Phillip,

      Responsibility for complying with domestic smoke alarm legislation is the responsibility of the owner of a dwelling, not a body corporate.

      In my article I mention that all owners are part of a body corporate, therefore as a collective the body corporate could organise for the entire building (all lots) to be deemed compliant.

      This solution has been implemented by many body corporates saving time, effort and money.

      If your body corporate is unable to compromise on a solution then as an owner I would be ensuring my property/lot is compliant as ultimately the lot owner is the one who is responsible.

  2. John Yesberg

    We occasionally have problems in our complex with (not-centrally-connected) smoke alarms going off for long periods of time.
    It’s difficult to work out which unit the noise is coming from, and the owner/resident is clearly not in the vicinity.
    So neighbours have to put up with the nuisance noise for hours – even multiple days.
    Do you have any advice for this situation?

  3. By

    Interesting review of the legislation requirements, no mention of insurance position if say one owner does not do by deadline .will insurers cover the building for fire damage if not totally compliant at jan 2022?

  4. Les Forster

    I tried this with our body corporate manager TcmStrata in Cairns but they didn’t want to know. I have tried, repeatedly to have them fired, but that has failed too. I begin to think that there is too much money that might be lost by this BCM, if they fail- again – to take the lead, exactly as it seems our own Body Corp Committee has been reluctant to do. I will do NOTHING now and happily blame inactivity by the committee and the manager in coming up with a plan to meet this deadline for all lot owners in Cairns.

  5. Rob

    It is understood that if domestic properties (houses, units) are either being sold or leased then they must be compliant by 01 January 2022. Otherwise an owner of a house or unit is not required to be compliant until 01 January 2027. That would include an owner occupier of an apartment.

    Is that correct?