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What is a Smoke Alarm?

A smoke alarm is a is an apparatus for the detection of airborne particulates (smoke) as a byproduct of combustion (fire) that incorporates an integrated alarm sounder. A smoke alarm may be stand alone, or interconnected with other fire detectors to alert the occupants of a building in the event of a fire. A smoke alarm is designed to Australian Standard AS 3786.

CEO, Firewize
19 Jan, 2021
Photoelectric Smoke Alarm

Australian Standard AS 3786 defines two types of smoke alarm;

  • Type A - a smoke alarm that does not contain radioactive materials; and
  • Type B - a smoke alarm that contains radioactive materials.

The definition of a "Smoke Alarm is a device containing within one housing all the components, except possibly the power source, necessary for detecting smoke and generating an alarm condition.Australian Standard AS 3786:2014 (A2) Smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light or ionization

Given the definition of a smoke alarm, we can determine the required (defining) features of a smoke alarm as follows;

  • a device containing within one housing;
    • a chamber to sense airborne particulates (smoke) as a byproduct of combustion (fire);
    • an audible condition indicator;
    • a test facility;
    • a mains power source (internal or external);
    • a standby power source;
    • an integrated method to protect the ingress of foreign bodies;
    • markings required and set out in the Standard.

These requirements differ significantly from a smoke detector which is a device designed to comply with a different Australian Standard being AS 7240.7:2018 or its predecessor AS1603.2-1997.


Firewize policy is one of continuous improvement, details of products, procedures or methods described within this document are subject to change without notice. All information provided here is believed to be correct at the time of publication.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information which is provided in good faith nothing contained herein is intended to incorporate any representation or warranty, either express or implied or to form the basis of any legal relations between the parties hereto, additional to or in lieu of such as may be applicable to a contract of sale or purchase.

This guide is provided solely on the basis that users will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information. Firewize does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.

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