Recent Changes to the New Zealand Building code and the requirements for smoke alarms

Early in November 2023, the new changes to the Building Code Acceptable Solutions for Protection from Fire (C/AS1 and C/AS2) came into force. The update outlined the minimum requirements for a fire safety system in new builds or substantially renovated properties from the 1st November 2023. Outlined in the New Zealand Standards NZS 4514:2021 are the requirements for interconnected smoke alarms for houses which will be incorporated into the Building Code.

The standards state that new builds and substantially renovated properties must have an interconnected smoke alarm system installed. These systems can be either 240v mains powered hard-wired interconnected system or a battery operated wireless interconnected system. The changes will have a 12- month transition period ending in November 2024. This will allow developers and building companies to incorporate the changes into their plans.

The key points of the changes to acceptable solutions can be found in the Standards New Zealand – NZS 4514:2021 interconnected smoke alarms for houses. Below is a summary of the standards.

  • All smoke alarms must meet one of the compliance standards such as BS EN 14604, AS3786, UL 217, CAN/ULC S531 or ISO 12239.
  • Smoke alarms must be photoelectric.
  • 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.
  • Smoke alarms shall be located on or near the ceiling.
  • All smoke alarms must have a hush and test button to temporarily silence the alarm.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Devices can be 240v mains powered or powered by a long life 10 year, non-removable/sealed battery.

For more information please refer to Standards New Zealand – NZS 4514:2021 interconnected smoke alarms for houses.