Buying and Installing Smoke Alarms

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Buying and Installing Smoke Alarms

Which type of smoke alarm should you buy?

Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommend long-life photoelectric smoke alarms.

Photoelectric and Interconnected smoke alarms

Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommend long-life photoelectric smoke alarms. They are far more effective than ionisation alarms at detecting slow smouldering fires, which burn for hours before bursting into flames.

Better yet, choose a set of photoelectric smoke alarms that can be connected to each other via Bluetooth technology, or wiring together. If a fire is detected in one room of the house, interconnected alarms will trigger all the alarms in your home, so everyone will be alerted to a fire sooner. This is especially important in multi-storey homes and homes with long hallways.

Make sure you have long-life batteries

The great thing is, most smoke alarms now come with a built-in, sealed, long-life battery, which will last as long as the smoke alarm – about ten years. That’s a big improvement on the old 9-volt batteries, which are cheaper but will start ‘chirping’ to be replaced after about one year. If you have a smoke alarm with an old 9-volt battery, it’s time to upgrade to a long-life photoelectric alarm.

Hard-wired smoke alarms

Some smoke alarms can be wired into your home’s power or security system. But you will still need a back-up battery installed in case of a power cut, and installation will be more involved (and costly) as you will need an electrician to run wiring to each location.

Smoke alarms for deaf or hard of hearing

If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, there are specialised smoke alarm systems with extra features such as extra loud and/or lower pitch alarm sounds, flashing strobe lights, or vibrating devices. Having hard-wired, interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms fitted alongside bed-shakers and/or strobe lights is ideal. More about specialised smoke alarms

Landlord or tenant? Who is responsible for smoke alarms

Both landlords and tenants are responsible. The landlord is responsible to ensure there are working smoke alarms in every rental, and to replace any smoke alarms that no longer work with new photoelectric ones. If the rental has an older alarm with a 9-Volt battery, replacing the battery is the tenant’s responsibility. Learn more about responsibilities

Where should I put smoke alarms?

 Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommend installing a smoke alarm in every bedroom, hallway and living area. You may also choose to install a heat alarm in the kitchen, laundry, bathroom or garage.

Important things to consider

Don't put a smoke alarm in your kitchen, where smoke from cooking could set it off – use a heat alarm here instead.

Smoke alarms cannot detect smoke through a closed door, so think carefully about the layout of your home.

Required property requirements

Your landlord must install a smoke alarm:

  • within 3 metres of each bedroom door, or in every room where a person sleeps
  • in each level or story of a multi-story or multi-level home
  • in all rental homes, boarding houses, rental caravans, and self-contained sleep-outs.

Building code requirements

If you're building or renovating and have been issued a building consent, the New Zealand Building Code requires an approved smoke alarm to be fitted in every escape route (hallway) and within three metres of every sleeping space (bedroom) door.

Safe disposal of smoke alarms

When your smoke alarms fail, you can put them out in your normal rubbish disposal.

Further public advice is available at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/radiation/hholdsmokedetectors.htm