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Smoke alarms compulsory for caravans

Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park manager Paul Brooks watches as Elliot Dewhurst, from North East Electrical, performs a routine check on smoke alarms installed in one of their cabins.
Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park manager Paul Brooks watches as Elliot Dewhurst, from North East Electrical, performs a routine check on smoke alarms installed in one of their cabins. Cathy Adams

CARAVAN owners will now have to install smoke alarms in their homes on wheels.

The new regulation came into force yesterday, requiring residents and holiday-makers “in all moveable dwellings where people sleep” to fit the alarms.

Site vans and backyard caravans are covered by the new regulation, which also requires a “hush” button, to reduce the nuisance of false alarms from cooking.

The move will affect caravans in holiday parks around the state – though many park managers are ahead of the game.

Paul Brooks, who manages the Suffolk Beachfront Holiday Park, said all its permanent caravans and cabins were equipped with smoke alarms.

“We’ve been really vigilant,” Mr Brooks said.

“You can’t put people into accommodation without those safeguards.”

Mr Brooks said he had been setting up a backpackers’ hostel in Brisbane at the time of the Childers hostel fire and that it had sent a shiver down his spine.

The Suffolk Park facility was also council owned, Mr Brooks said, and Byron Shire authority had always enforced smoke alarm requirements in the park.

“We have even found a way to install alarms in our safari tents,” he said.

It was a similar story of safety first at Clarkes Beach Holiday Park in Byron Bay. There are no permanent caravans there but all the cabins “have always had smoke alarms”, according to co-manager Nancy Sparks.

The grey nomads and other travellers who came into the park tended to be very safety conscious, with smoke alarms being a top priority in their mobile homes.

Ms Sparks and her husband Paul also manage the Tourist Reserve Holiday Park in Brunswick Heads, where there are a number of permanent residents living in caravans.

“All of them have smoke alarms and the local fire brigade does regular checks to make sure they are in working order,” Ms Sparks said.

The Brunswick Heads Brigade was one of several proactive brigades in the region, said acting zone commander Chris Bond, based in Lismore.

“They will fit them for those people unable to do it for themselves, and typically do a 12-month check-up. That’s how long we estimate the batteries to last.”

Batteries pose quite a different issue in the Lismore Tourist Caravan Park.

“Our biggest drama is that people take the batteries out to smoke a cigarette,” he said.

Caravan owners have six months to install the alarm before they face fines.


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