Smoke Alarm Safety

Published on Friday, 7 June 2024 at 8:10:43 AM

Smoke Alarm Safety

During June, the Western Australian community are urged to test and clean their smoke alarms, check their smoke alarms are less than 10 years old and replace batteries if needed.


There are lots of different smoke alarms on the hardware store shelf, so it is important to understand which option is best for your property, and why.

The two types of smoke alarms used in Western Australia use either ionisation or photoelectric smoke sensors. The difference is in the smoke sensing technology used, which affects how the device reacts to a fire.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services recommends you use photoelectric smoke alarms that are mains powered to keep your household safe.


Where smoke alarms are installed makes a big difference to how safe you’ll be if a fire starts. You can find simple diagrams to help you understand where to install your alarms in the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety factsheet - Smoke alarm laws for existing dwellings.


IMPORTANT: Mains powered smoke alarms must be installed by a certified electrician only.


Monthly maintenance:

  • Test by holding down the test button until you hear a loud alert tone, then release. Use a broom handle if you cannot reach but be careful you do not damage the smoke alarm.

 Yearly maintenance:

  • Vacuum around your smoke alarm vents with a soft brush attachment. This will remove a build-up of dust and cobwebs.
  • Use a surface insect spray around the smoke alarm to prevent insects nesting inside. Do not spray inside the smoke alarm.
  • If your alarm has a 9-volt user-replaceable battery, you will need to replace the battery each year.


Important notes:

 Always check the green visual display light is lit up. This shows that the smoke alarm is connected to the mains power.

  • Never fiddle with alarms or place anything over them, like paint or tape. This will stop the alarm from detecting smoke particles in the air.
  • All smoke alarms have batteries, including mains powered smoke alarms. Many smoke alarms on the market have a rechargeable battery, which you will not need to change.
  • A 9-volt user-replaceable battery needs to be changed every year, and will make a warning ‘beep’ or ‘chirp’ if the battery needs to be replaced (before your yearly replacement).
  • Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before changing the battery,
  • If you have experienced a long power outage, your mains powered smoke alarms may give a low battery warning. You do not need to change the battery but it may take a few hours to recharge once reconnected to power.