Frequently Asked Questions - Fire saftey
Statistics reveal that almost half of all home fires are started in the kitchen and 43% of all fire fatalities occur in winter. The key to reducing the risk of fire occurring in your home and to surviving a house fire is being prepared. Everyone in your household should understand what risks there are in your home and what to do to minimise them.
The following information explains what Byron Shire residents, business people, and other building owners have to do to make sure your building is fire safe.
Since May 2006, all NSW residents have been required by law to take a range of fire safety measures to prevent fire threats occuring in their home, rented property, or business.
If you have a building in NSW you must ensure that:
- There is at least one working smoke alarm (sometimes mistakenly referred to as “smoke detectors”) installed on each level of the building.
- The smoke alarms work properly; and
- No one removes or interfere's with the smoke alarm's operation.
These laws apply to owner occupied, rental properties, relocatable homes or any other residential building where people sleep. Smoke alarms are also mandatory for all new buildings and in some instances when buildings are being renovated.
If you are a landlord that rents a property to tenants, you are responsible for installing and maintaining a smoke alarm.
The law refers to residential accommodation across NSW and requires the installation of one or more smoke alarms in buildings in which persons sleep. Smoke alarms installed in such buildings must be operational, and persons cannot remove or interfere with the operation of smoke alarms. A person who does not comply with the law is guilty of an offence (maximum penalty $550).
Smoke alarms are life-saving devices that provide benefits for occupants. They detect smoke well before any sleeping occupant would and provide critical seconds to implement actions to save life and property. Smoke alarms are designed to detect fire smoke and emit a loud and distinctive sound to alert occupants of potential danger. Fire extinguishers and fire blankets installed handy to the kitchen area can be used to extinguish a fire in its early stages.
No. Every building where a person sleeps, whether it has development approval from Council or not, must have a smoke alarm. Development approval for a property is a completely separate issue, and does not change the need for smoke alarms to be installed.
The following types of buildings require smoke alarms or smoke detectors connected to an alarm system, and if you own one of them you must install one on each level within the residential area of the building:
Detached houses, terrace houses, town houses, villa units, apartments, home units, flats, caretakers flats, single residences above shops, relocatable homes, e.g., manufactured homes and moveable dwellings, but not tents, campervans, caravans or the like.
Installation is also mandatory in any boarding houses, guest house, hostel, backpackers accommodation, bed and breakfast accommodation, whether small or large. Residential parts of hotels, motels, schools, health care buildings, detention centres, certain residential accommodation for the aged, children and people with disabilities and hospitals and nursing homes.
Yes. Each year Byron Shire Council sets its Compliance Priorities. These priorities reflect Council's desire to help ensure a sustainable community for the Byron Shire. This includes making sure that people can live or visit the Shire and stay in premises that are legally safe in terms of fire safety.
In 2012, the number one priority for Council staff was to inspect 50 holiday let establishments for fire safety and 20 industrial premises for fire safety. The inspections are an important way for Council to talk with property owners about their obligations under the law, and Council will continue to carry them out to help ensure buildings in the Byron Shire are safe for people to use and stay in.
Council wants to work with Byron Shire property owners to make sure properties are safe. For example, recently Council worked with a local property owner to ensure smoke alarms were installed in three unapproved cabins on his property. This allowed Council to withdraw the court action which had been commenced on the basis the cabins had no smoke alarms.
However, if a property owner refuses to install smoke alarms, Orders may be issued to have them installed and they can be liable for a fine of $550. But much worse than that, a lack of smoke alarms could contribute to a human tragedy if a fire started in the premises.
Visit the NSW Fire and Rescue website at www.fire.nsw.gov.au. It has lots of helpful information about fire safety and what you can do to ensure you property is safe and complies with the law.
Note: The above fire safety information is general in nature only, it is your responsibility to ensure your building complies with relevant NSW Government Acts and Regulations. If you require further information regarding fire safety contact your local Council or Fire and Rescue NSW.
The following diagrams show where smoke alarms should be located. A Class 1a building is a single dwelling house. A Class 1b building is a B&B, boarding house hostel or like building.