Fire, Smoke Alarms, And You

smoke alarmsHouse fires are right at the top of the list of things that keep me awake at night.

I know I’ve got a fire safety plan.

I know that our Fire & Rescue service in NSW is one of the best in the world.

I know I’m safe.

But, that niggling feeling doesn’t go away just like that. With over 3,865 house fires last year in NSW, it’s big news. 21 tragic deaths were reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, and both the BBC and Daily Telegraph have laid the blame at the feet of one device.

The smoke alarm.

This isn’t to say that smoke alarms are dangerous – the opposite in fact. They save countless lives a year, besides being mandated by law. Common sense dictates that an effective, working smoke alarm is one of the best precautionary measures against house fires.

But there’s a problem.

A lot of our smoke alarms, and many people don’t know this, are outdated. Especially older models, which according to the Daily Telegraph, might not even meet modern Australian standards.

What’s more, many smoke alarms fail to actually wake children at all, according to the BBC.

It’s shocking.

The Legal Stuff

The stats speak for themselves. According to the Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB), you’re 57% more likely to suffer property damage, 26% more likely to suffer serious injuries, and four times as likely to die in a house fire without functioning smoke alarms.

Under the Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2005 NSW, the minimum requirement for a house is to have a smoke alarm on every level of the building.

But Fire & Rescue NSW go a step further.

They recommend installation smoke alarms in all rooms where people sleep, and the hallways leading to sleeping areas – and installing with interconnected smoke alarms, each one with a 10-year lithium batteries.

NSW isn’t the only state in Australia to mandate smoke alarms like this.

Queensland has made the requirement for any rental property to be interconnected photoelectric alarms – whether hard wired or on 10 year batteries – and this is written into law.

The magic code is AS 3786. This is the standard all smoke alarms must meet. If you’re not sure, ask your electrician to check, or get a new model installed that meets the minimum standards.

Whether or not we’ll follow the Queensland model in New South Wales, it’s time to upgrade and invest in your future, safety, and security. Invest in an interconnected smoke alarm system today.

Step Back, Rethink

smoke alarmYour fire safety plan needs to be taken back a step. It needs to include investing in a modern, interconnected smoke alarm system.

These systems use wireless technology – also known as RF – to communicate information from one alarm to another. When smoke is detected in one part of the house, the alarms sound across the board, alerting you instantly regardless of where you are in your home.

This is fantastic news.

The majority of home fire fatalities are located in a different location to where the fire initially started – but with an interconnected smoke alarm, you’ve got more time to gather your senses and put your action plan to work.

Wireless systems won’t interfere with your day-to-day connectivity.

By only using the same frequency as Wi-Fi for, at most, 1% of the time and for maximum 4 second periods, your smoke alarms can communicate with each other without disturbing you. RF interconnectivity meets strict guidelines to ensure that you’re safe.

The main advantage of the RF system is, unlike cabled interconnected alarms, there’s no chance for damage to the connections. A cable is far more likely to be damaged than a radio signal.

Smoke Alarms And You

Further to this, your interconnected smoke alarm uses photoelectric systems to ensure that smoke is detected early, and effectively.

The majority of deaths from house fires, and your greatest risk of harm, comes from smoke. Ionisation smoke alarms work efficiently in “fast-flame” fires, while photoelectric systems are considered by some to be superior in a smouldering fire, which is the more common sort.

Injury due to smoke inhalation can be serious, and even lethal, even in small amounts: a photoelectric smoke alarm ensures you’ve got the opportunity to detect dangerous levels of smoke, and time to enact your safety plan.

It’s time to upgrade. Call us on 8789 2503 for your investigation and smoke alarm installation today.

Fire Safety 101

fire safetyThree basic tips for best practice fire safety:

  1. Keep looking while cooking. The NSW Fire & Rescue team have put together this campaign to keep people in the loop about this – kitchen fires can kill, and keeping an eye on your dish or pot while you cook makes sure it’s in safe hands.
  2. Have a fire action plan. Work out a meeting point, practice with your family, and be ready in the case of the need to evacuate. This applies just as well in a workplace or a school as it does in a home; having an emergency plan for a fire is a great way to ensure that panic doesn’t ensue.
  3. Update your smoke alarms. Every 10 years at most, you should have your smoke alarms replaced entirely. Every year, when you change your clocks for daylight savings, check your smoke alarm batteries, or have an electrician inspect them for you.

Tragedies can sometimes still occur, but you can minimise the risk by following this basic protocol. If you detect early, have an action plan in place, and use high quality, standard-meeting, interconnected smoke alarms – well, you’ll just sleep better at night, won’t you?