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NZ Building Code Changes: Type 1 Domestic Smoke Alarms

04 Jun 2024

What has Changed?

From November 2023 the Building Code Acceptable Solutions for Protection from Fire (C/AS1 and C/AS2) have been amended to make Type 1 interconnected smoke alarms the minimum fire safety system for new built homes and substantial renovations, citing NZS 4514:2021 – Interconnected smoke alarms for Houses.

With the changes, smoke alarms are now required to be installed to ALL bedrooms/ sleeping areas, living spaces, hallways and landings within a household unit and must be interconnected, either wireless or hard-wired, so that when one activates, all alarms sound. The standard allows for either 10-year long-life battery-powered or 240V mains powered alarms.

References to Type 1 domestic smoke alarms have been removed from the Building Code Acceptable Solutions for Warning Systems (F7/AS1).

The changes are subject to a 12-month transition period ending on 01 November 2024. Until then designers and builders can choose to use either the new documents or the previous version to demonstrate compliance with the Building Code and where building consent applications will be submitted prior to the end of the transition period.

Guide to the Changes

Below are the key points of the changes to the acceptable solutions- it is important to read NZS 4514:2021 interconnected smoke alarms for houses for more detail.

  • Equipment required must be either 10 year long-life battery-operated (non-removable/sealed) or 240v mains powered, interconnected smoke alarms.
  • All smoke alarms must meet compliance standards such as BS EN 14604, AS3786, UL 217, CAN/ULC S531 or ISO 12239.
  • Where more than one smoke alarm is needed to meet the requirements of this standard, these alarms shall be interconnected so that when one activates, all smoke alarm devices in the household unit will sound. The interconnection between alarms may be wired or wireless.
  • Smoke alarms shall be located in all bedrooms, living spaces, hallways and landings within the building.
  • In a multi-level household, there shall be at least one smoke alarm on each level.
  • All smoke alarms must have a hush and test button.
  • Smoke alarms shall be located on or near the ceiling.
  • Where a kitchen or scullery is separated from the living spaces and hallways by doors that can be closed, an alarm specified by its manufacturer as suitable for a kitchen shall be located in the kitchen. This may be a heat alarm to avoid nuisance activations.

Why Interconnected Smoke Alarms?

Smoke alarms are interconnected so that when one activates, all the smoke alarm devices in the house will sound at the same time. 

Heat alarms provide an additional method of fire detection as they react to the build-up of temperature from a fire.  Bathrooms, laundries, garages and non-separated kitchens are optional locations for alarms and heat alarms are considered the best option for these spaces.

If using both smoke alarms and heat alarms in a house they are all required to be interconnected.

New Masterspec Generic Section

This month Masterspec have published a new generic work section to assist designers with the specification of these new systems.

7352 Type 1 Domestic Smoke Alarm System

The section details requirements for installation, maintenance, and commissioning of interconnected domestic smoke alarm systems, and also includes information on power supply (batteries, wiring etc.) and any heat alarms or sensory stimulation devices that may need to be incorporated into the system.

The new section is available in: Standard, Services, Basic, Interiors