Smoke Alarms



Smoke Alarms

When you are alseep, your sense of smell is out for the count as well. If a fire starts, hazardous fumes and smoke can quickly overcome you. Photoelectric (also known as photo-optical) smoke alarms detect visible parts of combustion. They respond to a wide range of fires, but are particularly responsive to smouldering fires and the dense smoke given off by foam-filled furnishings or overheated PVC wiring. Interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms will alert you early, so you and your family can escape quickly and safely.

Smoke Alarms Installations

From the start of January 2017, the Queensland Government are implementing new legislation (Click here to read the New 2017 Queensland Smoke Alarm Legislation) regarding smoke alarms. Here at Neil Hewitt Electrical and Air Conditioning, we can ensure that your home is safe and compliant with these new changes. We can look after all your smoke alarm needs, including hardwired, interconnected, photoelectric smoke alarm installations, upgrades, regular testing and maintenance.

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The Facts

The risk of death from a fire is more than twice as high in homes without smoke alarms when compared to homes with smoke alarms.
The vast majority of Queensland homes have smoke alarms. However, people still die because their smoke alarms have not been looked after and batteries aren’t working or have been removed.
Each year there are more than 1,250 residential fires in Queensland.

Photoelectric smoke alarms

Photoelectric is a type of smoke alarm, not a brand.

Photoelectric smoke alarms ‘see’ smoke and detect visible particles of combustion (e.g. smouldering cigarette smoke).
Photoelectric smoke alarms respond to a wide range of fires and are particularly responsive to smouldering fires and dense smoke such as that released by foam filled furnishings or overheated PVC wiring. Studies show that photoelectric alarms typically respond to smouldering fires, when the amount of smoke is fairly small and escape is relatively easy. Protection from fires increases with the quality and type of smoke alarms installed. Research shows that photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more effective than other smoke alarms across a wider range of fires experienced in homes.

Photoelectric smoke alarms are recommended for use in homes by the Queensland Fire Service


  • Respond well to smouldering fires and dense smoke.
  • Less prone to cooking nuisance alarms.
  • Do not contain radioactive material.
  • Suitable for general use.
  • Disadvantages
  • Prone to nuisance alarms from dust and insects. (All smoke alarms should be vacuumed or cleaned with a brush once a month to prevent this).

Ionisation smoke alarms (no longer compliant)

Ionisation smoke alarms take longer to respond to smouldering fires than photoelectric smoke alarms. This longer period of response results in lower visibility from smoke which makes escape more difficult. They are identified by the radiation symbol.

If you have an ionisation smoke alarm installed, QFRS recommends that you:

Supplement that existing alarm with a photoelectric smoke alarm, particularly between the sleeping and living areas and between the sleeping areas and exits from your home (such as hallways).
Replace your ionisation smoke alarm with a photoelectric smoke alarm before the alarm’s use-by-date.


  • Prone to nuisance alarms due to cooking.
  • May be slow to respond to slow smouldering fires.
  • Contain small amounts of radioactive material.

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