Smoke alarms

Information for Queensland public housing tenants.

What are smoke alarms?

Smoke alarms are early warning devices for fires. They make a loud noise when smoke is detected and have been installed in your home for your safety.
There is a smoke alarm information sticker on the inside of your cupboard door (usually the linen cupboard). The sticker explains how to test and clean your smoke alarm.

How do the new smoke alarm laws affect tenants?

Tenants do not need to do anything after the laws change. All government-owned housing will be compliant by 1 January 2022.

Smoke alarms installed in all government-owned social housing properties meet the current legislation. The department has begun installing new smoke alarms in residential properties to comply with the new legislation.

Smoke alarm installation

We will replace smoke alarms in all social housing residential properties to comply with the new legislation.

The new laws came into effect on 1 January 2017, and require all homes to have interconnected photoelectric alarms installed in all bedrooms, hallways and living areas, and on every storey of the property.


We will complete the installation process by 1 January 2022. The process will happen in phases, and we will notify you well before your home is to be fitted with the new alarms.

We will organise a qualified electrical contractor to install the new alarms. Depending on the number of alarms to be installed in your home, the installation should be completed within 1 day.

More information

Do I need to replace the battery?

No, you won’t need to replace the battery in your smoke alarms.

Some smoke alarms are hardwired into your power supply. They also have a back-up lithium battery with a 10-year lifespan.

The batteries are charged through your power supply. Even if you lose power the alarm will sound if there is a fire.

Some smoke alarms are battery-powered. The battery in these alarms are non-removable and will power the alarm for 10 years.

What should I do if my smoke alarm activates?

Find out what caused the alarm to go off. False alarms can be caused by smoke or steam from everyday activities such as burning toast, cooking or showers.

If there is a fire

  • Call 000 for the fire brigade from your mobile or a neighbour’s phone
  • Don't fight the fire if there is any danger
  • Evacuate everyone from your property as quickly as possible
  • If there is smoke, cover your nose and mouth with a cloth and keep close to the floor when evacuating
  • If you live in a multi-unit complex and the fire starts in your unit, get everyone out, close the front door and use the nearest stairs to reach ground level
  • If the fire starts in another unit or common area, leave the building if it is safe. If not, stay in your unit and close your doors and windows to keep smoke out—call 000
  • If your unit is in a building serviced by lifts, follow the emergency evacuation procedures to the exit
  • Never go back to try and save your belongings.

If there is no fire

If your alarm has been set off accidentally, you should follow these steps:

  • Find the smoke alarm with the rapidly flashing red light.
  • Air the room(s) by opening windows and doors, and fan the area around the alarm with a newspaper or tea towel.
  • Some alarms have stop buttons on the alarm or a wall-mounted isolating switch. Press the stop button or the switch for five seconds—this will temporarily stop the alarm.
  • If the alarm doesn’t stop once the smoke has cleared, call 13 QGOV or your nearest Housing Service Centre’s maintenance section for help.

The alarm should stop when the cause of the fire alarm has been removed—this may take several minutes.

What should I do if my smoke alarm is beeping?

The alarm will beep at intervals while the battery is recharging. This usually happens after a power failure, or if the power was disconnected and reconnected.

If the beeping continues or there hasn’t been a recent power outage, call 13 QGOV or your nearest Housing Service Centre’s maintenance section for help.

How do I know my smoke alarm is working

Test your alarm once a month by doing the following:

  • if your alarm is round
    • check the red light on the cover flashes at least once every 60 seconds
    • press the test button for up to 10 seconds to check the alarm is working—the alarm will stop a few seconds after the test button is released
  • if your alarm is rectangular
    • check the green light on the cover of the alarm is on
    • press the test button for up to 10 seconds to check the alarm is working—the alarm will stop a few seconds after the test button is released.

How do I clean my smoke alarm?

Clean your alarm every 6 months by doing the following:

  • vacuum lightly to remove dust, insects and cobwebs from the surface of the alarm
  • wipe the alarm cover with a clean, damp (not wet) cloth
  • dry the alarm cover with a clean lint-free cloth.

What else do I need to know about my smoke alarm?

  • Never tamper with or open your alarm—this could result in an electrical shock
  • Never try to remove or replace batteries in your alarm
  • Do not allow paint, water or dust to contaminate your alarm
  • Avoid spraying aerosols or using solvents near your alarm.

When should I call the maintenance section?

  • If your smoke alarm is defective
  • If you have any concerns about looking after your smoke alarms.

What does it cost to operate a smoke alarm?

Approximately 70 cents per year.

What if I remove my smoke alarm?

Removing your smoke alarm is considered damage to your property. As well as risking your safety you will have to pay the cost to repair any damage. If the smoke alarm has been removed you will be charged for replacement of the alarm.

Helpful information