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Keeping Smoke Alarms Operational Saves Lives

By Piers Crawford

Placing a rental property under professional property management has many benefits for both the owner and the tenants. Property managers make sure that all the required documentation is correctly completed and all legal requirements are met by both parties. One such legal requirement for all tenanted properties is that they are fitted with working smoke alarms.

Two Days’ Notice of Entry Required to Fit Smoke Alarms

Landlords or their representatives have the right to enter tenanted premises to fit smoke alarms after giving two days’ notice. It would be foolish of a tenant to refuse this entry, as the consequences could be the loss of their property or worse still, their lives in the event of a fire. We remind our tenants that they are also required to keep the alarms clean, replace the batteries if they are running down and test them every month.

We also recommend that our tenants have a battery on hand in case the tell-tale warning signal starts up, indicating that the battery is about to fail. Otherwise, it is likely that the battery will be removed to stop the noise, and the replacement forgotten until the next shopping trip. Tragedies have occurred in just these circumstances, as a fire has broken out before the new battery could be purchased.

Replace Older Alarms with Photoelectric Types

Smoke alarms have a life span of around 10 years, and for any that are due to be replaced, we recommend the purchase of the photoelectric type of alarm for a couple of reasons. They detect fires quicker than the older ionisation type, and especially the slow burning or smouldering fires that release toxins into the air. Fire victims have died in their sleep from breathing these toxins, unaware of the danger.

The photoelectric alarms are also less sensitive to the heat from cooking that causes the other type of alarms to activate when there is no danger. This reduces the chances of a tenant removing the battery to stop the noise and forgetting to reinstate it when the kitchen is not being used.

Radiation Symbol Underneath Indicates Type

These types of alarms are readily available at hardware stores and electrical retail outlets and although they are more expensive, the difference in price is marginal compared to the benefits. You can check the type of alarm you currently have by taking it down and looking under it. If there is a radiation symbol on the alarm, it is an ionisation type.

Here at Ray White Holland Park we sometimes have tenants in our rental properties who are physically unable to reach the smoke alarms. We remind them that they are legally required to let us know when the batteries in their alarms need replacing so other arrangements can be made.

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