Smoke alarms are mandatory in Australian residential homes, but new data reveals more work needs to be done to get the message through to homeowners.
New data released by Smoke Alarms Australia has revealed nearly one in two households have no working smoke alarm at all.
Since 2010, Smoke Alarms Australia said it has carried out a first inspection of more than 140,000 residential properties in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, ACT and Western Australia – and a total of 259,000 smoke alarms.
The data revealed the prevalence of properties with at least one non-working smoke alarm due to damage, fault or expiry, or where an alarm is absent, has increased year on year – from 39 per cent of inspected properties in 2010, up to 59.9 per cent in 2014.
“Of greater concern, across the five states there has been year-on-year growth of residential properties with no working smoke alarms at all – from 28.3 per cent in 2010, up to 44.5 per cent in 2014,” it said.
Smoke Alarms Australia general manager Troy Thompson said the statistics are “worrying”, and suggest state government messages such as ‘only working smoke alarms save lives’ still have a long way to go.
“Homeowners are probably unaware of the smoke alarm legislation in their state, or that alarms expire after 10 years,” he said.
“State governments can issue property owners with on-the-spot fines for non-compliance – from $500 in Queensland up to $5,000 in Western Australia.
“In light of this data and the 11,000 household fires that occurred in Australian homes last year, it’s clear householders are not aware that smoke alarms need to be checked at least yearly to ensure they are working.”
Mr Thompson warned that with Christmas lights and candles a major household fire danger in summer, we are heading into another season of fire risk.