Fire safety and smoke alarms
Last published 01 Jun 2020
Preventing household fires and making sure your smoke alarms are working
We want to keep everyone in your household safe from fires
Our tips outline how to:
- prevent household fires with simple safety checks and preparation
- deal with a fire in your household
- make sure your smoke alarms are working.
How can I keep my home fire safe?
If there is a fire, dial 000
Many household fires can be prevented. Everyone in your household should know what they can do to reduce the danger of a fire in your home.
Here are a few simple things you can do:
- Regularly check risk areas
- Make sure you have working smoke alarms
- Prepare a home fire escape plan
Fire and Rescue NSW recommends regular and simple safety checks to make your home fire safe:
- Never smoke in bed.
- Never leave cooking unattended.
- Check electric blankets for damage (including frayed cords) and replace old ones regularly.
- Turn off electric blankets before getting into bed.
- Keep curtains, clothing, tablecloths and bedding away from heaters and candles.
- If you use a clothes dryer, clean the lint filter every time you use it.
- Only use one appliance for every powerpoint.
- Switch off appliances when you are not using them.
- Blow out candles or any other open flames before going to bed or leaving a room.
- Store matches and lighters away from young children.
- Test the smoke alarms every month by pressing and holding the button until it beeps.
If your alarm doesn’t beep when tested, report it to DCJ Housing. If you live in community housing, contact your housing provider to report faulty smoke alarms.
Housing Contact Centre 1800 422 322
How can I be prepared for a fire?
Talk to your family, including your children, about what to do if there is fire
- Point out where the smoke alarm is and explain what it does
- Develop a home escape plan – include a meeting place and two ways to get out of each room
- Discuss and practise the plan with everyone in the household and keep a copy handy
- Make sure keys to all locked doors are easy to access
If you are hearing impaired, you can have a strobe light connected to your smoke alarm.
How do I deal with a fire?
Your first priority is to ensure that you and your family are safe.
- Escape as quickly as possible and phone 000.
- Do not attempt to fight a fire.
- Do not go back inside to save your things.
- If there is smoke, cover your nose and mouth with a cloth and keep close to the floor.
- If a fire starts in your home or unit, leave straight away and close the front door firmly, use the nearest stairs to reach ground level and never use a lift if there is a fire.
- If a fire starts in another unit, or in a common area, leave the building if it is safe.
- If it is not safe to leave, phone 000 tell them your location, stay in your unit and close your doors and windows to keep the smoke out.
- Heavy sleepers, such as children and those affected by alcohol or drugs, may not hear the alarm. You might need to offer help.
- If a family member has a hearing or mobility problem, ask someone to help them.
Fire and Rescue NSW will advise when a person can re-enter a fire damaged property.
In most cases Fire and Rescue NSW will tell us when a fire has occurred. We will contact you to discuss how we can help, or you can phone us and we'll arrange help as fast as possible.
Why do I need a smoke alarm in my home?
In NSW, the law requires you to have smoke alarms because they help to protect your life and your property. Smoke alarms detect smoke and fires early and sound a warning alarm. For this reason, you should not remove or damage them.
The standby battery in the alarm should last for five to 10 years. It does not fit into any other electrical appliance.
Smoke alarms in DCJ properties are connected to the house or unit’s wiring system. They are usually mounted in a high position located in the living room, hallway or bedrooms.
You will notice two different lights on your smoke alarm:
- A steady green light shows the alarm is being powered.
- A red light that flashes once a minute shows the alarm is working.
What should I do if the alarm goes off?
If your smoke alarm goes off and you smell smoke, everyone should leave the property immediately. Once outside, phone 000 and report the fire.
Smoke alarms can sometimes be triggered by cooking smoke or steam from showers. To help prevent this, ensure there is enough ventilation when cooking, showering or smoking. If these activities trigger the alarm, you can stop the beeping by pressing the hush button on the alarm or fanning away the smoke or steam.
If the power to your property is turned off, you will hear a short beep every few seconds. When the power is first connected to the alarm, it may sound for two to three seconds and continue to beep once every 40 seconds for around 10 minutes. This is normal.
If a smoke alarm sounds regularly for no clear reason, or you think it is not working properly, contact us. Community housing tenants must contact their provider directly.
How do I look after my smoke alarm?
- Do not remove or interfere with any parts of the smoke alarm – it’s against the law.
- A contractor checks the smoke alarm annually. We organise this with you. The law requires this to ensure your smoke alarm is working properly. Please give entry to the contractor.
- Do not attempt to open the alarm as it is connected to the main power supply and could give you an electric shock.
Insects may be attracted to smoke alarms and can trigger the alarm. If this occurs, spray the ceiling around the alarm with insect surface spray but never spray the alarm directly.