Fire Safety Equipment
A smoke alarm is a device that is designed to detect smoke and alert you if a fire breaks out in your home, even if you are asleep
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Types of Alarm
- There are two main types of alarms used in homes, photo-electric and ionisation alarms.
- Photo-electric smoke alarms provide more effective all-round detection and alarm than ionisation alarms.
- Fire Services recommend that all homes be fitted with Australian Standards-approved photo-electric smoke alarms.
- If you currently have ionisation smoke alarms in your home, you may choose to maintain them until the end of their service life. Use a long-life alkaline battery in these alarms, and change them annually. However, you should also install photo-electric smoke alarms in accordance with the locations described below.
- You should install a smoke alarm in each room where people sleep and in all paths of travel to exits, such as the hallway & the living area.
- If you live in a house with more than one level, install a smoke alarm on the ceiling at the head of the stairway connecting the levels.
- Much better protection will be provided if you inter-connect all smoke alarms in your home, so that when one alarm operates, all alarms operate, alerting occupants throughout the house.
- Avoid installing smoke alarms too close to air conditioners, heaters, fans and similar devices, because these might affect the performance of your smoke alarms.
- To minimise false alarms, avoid installing smoke alarms close to kitchens and bathrooms. A primary reason why smoke alarms don't operate when needed is because batteries have been removed after repeated false alarms. False alarms are often caused by steam from bathrooms or by cooking fumes. Photo-electric alarms are less prone to false alarms from cooking fumes.
Smoke alarms may not be heard by persons who are hard of hearing, or by sleeping occupants if they are located too far from rooms where people sleep.
- The Deaf and Hard of Hearing will need additional features such as a vibrating pad and/or a strobe light, Contact Tasdeaf.
- Sound sleepers and people who have recently used alcohol or medications may not be awakened by a smoke alarm.
- Young children may sleep through the sound of a smoke alarm, so you must alert them to a fire and help them escape to safety.
- Smoke alarms won't work without a power supply.
- Smoke alarms should be supported by a home fire escape plan.
Special Alarm Features
The following features are available with many models:
- Emergency lighting, to aid your evacuation;
- Strobes and vibrating alerts, specially designed for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Contact Tasdeaf.
- Alarms powered by mains electricity (240V) with a battery back-up;
- Alarms powered by 10 year lithium batteries;
- Alarms that are inter-connectable (240V alarms, or wireless lithium battery-powered alarms);
- Some smoke alarms can be connected to a security system.
Caravans, mobile homes, tents, temporary accommodation
- Put smoke alarms in all sleeping and living areas.
- Use a battery-powered alarm if a 240V alarm is not practical.
- Install alarms in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions.
- Test your alarm monthly. This can be done by using a broom handle to push and hold the test button. The test button only tests the alarm circuitry, and is not conclusive proof that a smoke alarm will actually detect smoke. The only sure way to test that the alarm works properly is to subject it to a small amount of smoke. We recommend that you use a smoke alarm tester spray, available from selected stores.
- If powered by a standard 9 volt battery, change your batteries once a year. Use a long-life alkaline battery. 'Change Your Clock - Change Your Smoke Alarm Batteries' at the end of daylight savings is a good way to remember to do this.
- Make sure the battery terminals are lined up the right way, then "click" the battery into position. Push the test button to make sure the alarm is working - it should beep loudly.
- Clean your alarm every 6 months with the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner; more often if it's in a dusty or dirty environment. Otherwise your alarm won't work properly.
- Smoke alarms have a limited life. In no case should a smoke alarm be used for more than 10 years.
Domestic sprinkler systems
- Even if you have a sprinkler system in your home you should still install smoke alarms in accordance with the above recommendations.
- Ionisation smoke alarms in quantities less than ten may be disposed of in household waste. Quantities of ten or more ionisation smoke alarms shall be treated as radioactive waste and disposed of in accordance with local regulations.
- Photo-electric smoke alarms in any quantity may be disposed of in household waste.
The Tasmania Fire Service supports the Australasian Fire Authorities Council Position on Smoke Alarms.
Dry Chemical Powder
- This type of extinguisher is suitable for most household fires;
- A one kilogram Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher will last approximately 10 to 12 seconds; and
- Is effective against small fires.
- Choose a fire extinguisher approved by Australian Standards;
- Monitor the pressure gauge to ensure correct pressure;
- Shake it occasionally to prevent the powder from settling;
- Have it serviced every six months and pressure tested every five years by a qualified person; and
- Refill your extinguisher, as soon as possible, after it has been used.
When to use a Fire Blanket
- A fire blanket is ideal for cooking fat fires and can be used to wrap around people if their clothes catch alight;
- Place (not throw) fire blankets over cooking fat fires, keeping hands and face protected behind it; and
- Turn off the heat source and leave the blanket over the burnt area for at least 15 minutes or until the heat has dissipated.
- Dial 000 to call the fire brigade
Fire Blanket Regulations
- Your fire blankets should be Australian Standards approved;
- It must measure not less than 1 metre by 1 metre; and
- It should be installed in or close to the kitchen.