On February 17, 2023, the Standards Australia Committee published a new Australian Standard for smoke alarms, known as Australian Standard 3786:2023. This standard replaces the previous version, Australian Standard 3786:2014. The superseding of standards is a common occurrence, as standards are regularly updated and amended over time. In the case of Australian Standard 3786, it has undergone multiple iterations since its initial release in 1990.
Why was a new Australian smoke alarm standard issued?
There are several reasons behind the issuance of new Australian Standard 3786:2023:
-Technological advancements: With the emergence of new smoke alarm technologies and the evolution of existing ones, it was necessary to update the standard to incorporate these changes. This ensures that the standard remains relevant and reflects the current technology available in the market. For example, the new standard now includes provisions for interconnected smoke alarms.
-Safety considerations: Safety is of utmost importance in this standard. As new fire risks are identified and existing ones are better understood, the standard has been updated to address these concerns. This involves providing clearer guidelines for the safe usage of smoke alarms and associated testing protocols.
-International harmonization: In a globalized world, harmonizing standards across different countries and regions is crucial for interoperability and mutual recognition of products. Australian Standard 3786:2023 has been aligned with the International Standard ISO 12239:2021 for smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light, or ionization.
-Feedback and continuous improvement: The development of Australian Standard 3786:2023 was an iterative process that took into consideration feedback from users, stakeholders, and experts. Committee members involved in the development included the National Fire Industries Association, Australian Building Codes Board, Property Council of Australia, CSIRO, and the Fire Protection Association Australia.
Now, let’s explore the key differences between the new Australian Standard 3786:2023 and the old Australian Standard 3786:2014:
-Recognition of combination and multi-criteria smoke alarms: The new standard acknowledges the introduction of smoke alarms that combine multiple sensors within a single housing, allowing for enhanced detection capabilities.
-Inclusion of unrelated sensors: The new standard references the inclusion of sensors within smoke alarms that are unrelated to smoke detection. For example, a smoke alarm could now include a carbon monoxide sensor, creating a dual purpose product that is both a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm.
-Additional requirements: The new standard introduces new requirements for smoke alarms powered by mains household power, temporary disablement facilities, smoke alarms using radio frequency links, and assessment for wall-mounted smoke alarms.
Do I need to upgrade my smoke alarms so they are compliant with Australian Standard 3786:2023?
If you currently have smoke alarms that comply with Australian Standard 3786:2014, you do not need to immediately upgrade them to comply with the new Australian Standard 3786:2023. Compliance with a standard only becomes a legal requirement when it is referenced in legislation by the Australian government or other regulatory bodies. As of the time of writing this article, fire safety legislation in Queensland still references Australian Standard 3786:2014, and the National Construction Code 2022 (adopted by states and territories from May 1, 2023) also continues to reference the 2014 version. Therefore, legal compliance remains unchanged. However, it is important to note that regardless of changes in the Australian Standard, smoke alarms should always be replaced if they fail to operate or are older than 10 years from the date of manufacture. Interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms are recommended for replacement.
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