Smoke Alarm Requirements in Victoria: What You Need To Know

Whether you own your home or rent it, smoke alarms in domestic dwellings are compulsory in Australia and in Vic smoke alarm legislation. This applies to all types of buildings, including free-standing houses, townhouses and flats.


The Australian Residential Tenancies Act states that you need to have smoke alarms installed on every level of your home. Ideally, these must be hardwired into the electrical system, with detection units placed on or near the ceiling. 


If you’re the homeowner, you’re responsible for complying with the legal requirements. If you rent your property, the responsibility falls on your landlord. However, you also have a duty to monitor the system and communicate any issues to the responsible person so that they can be fixed.


All of which might leave you wondering about things like where to put smoke alarms for the best protection, what you need to do as a tenant, and what types of smoke alarm to install. Not to mention posing questions like whether you should install new smoke alarms and if so, who installs smoke alarms.


Where to place smoke alarms in domestic dwellings


At the very least, you should install smoke alarms between each bedroom area and the other parts of your house. Both Fire Rescue Victoria and the County Fire Authority further recommend that you place one in each bedroom, and in your general living area. 


This is especially true if you sleep with your bedroom door closed. Research has shown that if a fire breaks out in a bedroom, but the doors are closed, an alarm placed outside the bedroom won’t activate.


The actual alarm units should be placed on the ceiling, no less than 30cm from a wall. Alternatively, you can put one on the wall, in which case it should at least 30cm below the ceiling. The reason for this is to avoid so-called “dead air space” where smoke can’t be detected.


The benefit of interconnected smoke alarms


For the safest level of coverage, use interconnected smoke alarms. Since the main function of a smoke alarm is to wake you up if a fire breaks out in your home at night, interconnected smoke alarms are designed to ensure that you will hear them while you’re sleeping. As they’re all connected to each other, they’ll all go off at the same time. If they’re not connected, you might not hear a single alarm activating in a different room if you’re sound asleep.


Only use a certified Melbourne electrician for smoke alarm solutions


As per the hard wired smoke alarm laws Victoria, if your house was built after July 1997, your alarms must be connected to your 240V mains power. For that reason, installing smoke alarms can only be done by a qualified and certified Melbourne electrician.


Specifics of smoke alarm requirements in Victoria


Vic smoke alarm legislation also specifies things like the minimum smoke alarm requirements, testing and maintenance schedules, and how the age of your property influences your responsibilities.


Minimum smoke alarm requirements and property types


The minimum smoke alarm requirements are determined according to when your building was constructed.


  • If your home was built before 1 August 1997, you must at least have standalone battery-powered smoke alarms.

    As a side note, since you’re only relying on a battery and might forget to check it, it’s safer to install new smoke alarms connected to your electrical mains. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a lithium battery with a 10-year lifespan.

  • If your home was built or substantially renovated after 1 August 1997, you need to have hard wired smoke alarms connected to your 240V mains system. In addition, you should have a back-up battery in case of a power cut.

  • If your home was constructed or extensively renovated after 1 May 2014, you must have interconnected smoke alarms powered by your mains circuit. A back-up battery is also required.


Testing and maintaining your smoke alarms


You also have a set of responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that your smoke alarm solutions are working properly and will perform the way they need to in an emergency.


You can remember what to do with a TCCR acronym: test, clean, change, replace.


You should test the batteries and the alarm activation once a month. To do this, press and hold the “Test” button (or equivalent) until the alarm beeps three times.

At least once a year, clean the cover of each smoke alarm unit using a duster or a vacuum cleaner. This ensures that the detection equipment isn’t masked by foreign matter.



If your alarm system uses 9 volt batteries, make sure to change them once a year. If you have a long-life lithium battery powering your alarm system, you’ll only have to change it every 10 years. 

(You can obviously ignore this step if you have a hard-wired alarm system.)



It’s recommended that you upgrade or replace all your smoke alarm units every 10 years. If you’ve been running yours off battery power, that’s the time to upgrade to an interconnected alarm system hard-wired into your electricity mains.


Smoke alarm requirements in Victoria for renters


If you’re renting your home, your landlord bears all the responsibilities we’ve talked about above. However, the onus is also on you to play your part. 


Your rental provider must supply you with written information on how your smoke alarms work, how to test and maintain them, and how to report faults.


You are required to report any problems with your smoke alarms as soon as you’re aware of them. In Victoria, fixing smoke alarms is regarded as an “urgent repair” so you mustn’t waste any time. 


You are not allowed to interfere with the smoke alarm system in any way. This includes removing or deactivating units. Doing so can result in you being legally obliged to move out if your landlord wishes to do so.


Who installs smoke alarms?


By law, only professional electricians may install new smoke alarms. That’s where we can help you. Our certified and qualified Melbourne electricians have lots of experience in this, and can also advise you on the most appropriate smoke alarm system for your property.


You can contact STL Electrical to check your smoke alarms, and repair or replace them if necessary. We also install interconnected smoke alarms from scratch.

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