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Smoke Alarms To Be Required In All New Homes

Smoke Alarms To Be Required In All New Homes

As from 22 April 2003 automatic smoke detection and alarm systems will need to be installed in all new Detached Dwellings and other household units built where there is not already a requirement for them.

This change is the result of an amendment to the building code (clause F7) to require that ‘appropriate means of detection and warning of fire must be provided within each household unit.’

“The cost/benefit study we commissioned found that the proposed mandatory installation of single station battery operated smoke alarms would achieve a significant improvement in fire safety at a reasonable cost. They were found to be sufficiently reliable, without the need for a compliance schedule, provided that the owner carried out normal maintenance,” BIA Chief Executive Richard Martin said.

“That said, the Authority is aware that fire detection technology is advancing and that hard-wired systems are becoming more cost effective. The Authority will therefore continue to review whether hard-wired or other more advanced systems of smoke detection and alarm should be required under its Approved Documents.”

In coming to this decision the Authority made its draft recommendations available for public comment, and all comments received were carefully considered. The Authority also consulted the Fire Service Commission, which supported the recommendation.

The new requirement does not apply to existing homes but the regulations will mandate the installation of smoke alarms when a building undergoes an alteration or change of use to become a home or when an alteration is made to an existing home that requires a building consent.

The amendment to the Building Act also removes the previous requirement for smoke alarms in some apartment-type dwellings to be listed on a compliance schedule and consequently be subject to the inspection regime.

The building code amendments will specify performance criteria for smoke alarm systems.

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