Why doesn’t Australia have a top score?
Australia missed out on top marks because in its most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, only one smoke detector is required per floor.1,2 While this means multi-storey homes would earn a high score, single-storey homes are only required to have one, which saw Australia receive the second-highest result.
However, the state of Queensland has some of the strongest smoke alarm requirements in the world. Following a coronial inquest into a house fire in 2011 where 11 people perished, it was found the home had lacked functioning smoke alarms. This meant the occupants had no warning of the blaze.3
Now Queensland houses must require multiple inter-connected (meaning when one is triggered all alarms are activated) photo-electric smoke alarms throughout the house, in bedrooms and hallways or on the nearest path to exit a floor.4
Adrian Taylor, the General Manager of General Insurance at Compare the Market, says if more Australian states adopted legislation similar to Queensland, Australia would move up in the table to join other nations with strong smoke detector laws such as New Zealand, Germany, the UK and USA.
“Any homeowner or landlord should want to ensure adequate smoke and fire detection systems are in place. Smoke alarms save lives and can help reduce damage to property by warning people as soon as a fire is detected,” Taylor says.
“Whether you own the home yourself or rent it out, you should always make sure your home is safe and complies with the laws in your area. For countries where it is optional but not required, it is definitely a worthy investment.”
Will flat smoke alarm batteries void your home insurance?
If the battery on your smoke alarm is dead and a fire occurs, it may be possible that a home or contents insurance claim for any related damage could be denied, Taylor explains.
“In Australia, home insurance providers typically have wording in their policy saying that the home must be compliant with local laws, such as the new requirements in Queensland. If your battery is flat and you haven’t replaced it, that could impact the outcome of a claim if a fire occurs.
“Make sure you check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) policy document and do a bit of home maintenance to ensure your smoke alarms are in working order. It will help keep you safe, and help you meet relevant obligations under your insurance policy,” says Taylor.