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Old alarms trigger warning

Thursday, 29th January, 2015

Firefighter Craig Burke checking the smoke alarms at the Central Fire Station. Firefighter Craig Burke checking the smoke alarms at the Central Fire Station.

How old is your smoke alarm? Local firefighters are finding that lots of older homes have alarms that have been there for more than 10 years.

Firefighter Craig Burke said that was because it had been almost 10 years since regulations for smoke alarms came out.

“It’s around now that smoke alarms will be starting to expire,” he said.

“There are two types of smoke alarms; photoelectric and ionisation.

“As they get older they start to expire - they usually last five to seven. After that they lose sensitivity.”

Fireman Burke said testing had shown that photoelectric alarms work faster and were therefore recommended.

“Tests, including the tests for adherence to the Australia Standard, show a clear difference between the alarms, with photoelectric alarms generally activating more quickly in most scenarios than ionisation alarms.

“In saying that, both alarms meet the Australian Standards and will work.

“But if your alarm is over 10 years and you are looking to change it, purchase a photoelectric smoke alarm.

“We are trying to get it out there because we are coming across many older houses that have old smoke alarms.

“If there are any elderly or disabled people who can’t change their alarms or batteries and can’t get any help, we are happy to do it.

“We don’t want them to put the alarms up themselves. If they provide batteries or the new alarm, we will come around and fit it.”

He said an ionisation smoke alarm will have a radiation symbol on it.

“Also look for an expiry or production date to see how old it is.”

Legislation requires all NSW residents to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home.

They should be tested every month to ensure that the battery and the alarm sounder are working.

The battery should be replaced once a year.

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