skip to main content
Risk Bulletin

Isolating smoke detection systems during periods of extreme smoke haze

smoke detection

The east coast of Australia has seen an early start to the 2019 bushfire season with severe smoke haze and poor air quality throughout much of New South Wales and southern Queensland. The Insurance Council of Australia estimates insured losses from the early season bushfires to be over $165 million.

Smoke from these fires has settled over Sydney and Canberra, setting off fire alarms and halting ferry services as famous landmarks disappeared behind some of the worst smoke haze seen in many years.

The smoky conditions affected numerous properties owned and operated by Chubb policyholders. Often smoke detection systems need to be isolated to prevent false alarms and unnecessary system activation but this can lead to increased risk in the event of an actual fire, particularly for unmanned spaces.

If isolation of smoke detection systems is necessary, the following precautions and alternative arrangements can help to significantly reduce the risk:

  1. Notify appropriate third parties and authorities such as tenants, the fire brigade and insurers ( of any fire protection system impairments.

  2. Ensure that key staff, security and/or fire wardens (covering all shifts) are alerted, and that procedures are in place to raise the alarm and activate suppression systems, should a fire be observed.

  3. Implement additional patrols when smoke detection systems are isolated. The focus should be on higher risk, business critical and unmanned areas. In situations where the premises are fully protected by automatic sprinklers it may be possible to reduce the need for additional inspections.

  4. Every effort should be made to avoid hot work when smoke detection systems are isolated. If any cutting, welding, or other hot work is necessary then we strongly recommend that formal hot work management procedures are in place. The Chubb hot work permit is available on our website.

  5. Please send the completed Fire Impairment Form (available on our website) to for larger or longer duration impairments such as those involving:
    • more than 10% of the site or the data rooms; and
    • extending longer than 8 hours or overnight
  6. Restore any isolated smoke detection systems, fire protection and security equipment at the earliest opportunity.


For further advice on bushfire preparation, safety procedures and current warnings, we recommend reading information by the NSW Rural Fire Service. We also have Bushfire safety tips available on our website.

Chubb has a team of dedicated risk engineers who can assist policyholders in preparing for the bushfire season.

For more information, please contact

1As of 13 December 2019

This content is brought to you by Chubb Insurance Australia Limited (“Chubb”) as a convenience to readers and is not intended to constitute advice (professional or otherwise) or recommendations upon which a reader may rely. Any references to insurance cover are general in nature only and may not suit your particular circumstances. Chubb does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and any insurance cover referred to is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions set out in the relevant policy wording. Please obtain and read carefully the relevant insurance policy before deciding to acquire any insurance product. A policy wording can be obtained at, through your broker or by contacting any of the Chubb offices. Chubb makes no warranty or guarantee about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the content. Readers relying on any content do so at their own risk. It is the responsibility of the reader to evaluate the quality and accuracy of the content. Reference in this content (if any) to any specific commercial product, process, or service, and links from this content to other third party websites, do not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by Chubb and shall not be used for advertising or service/product endorsement purposes. ©2020 Chubb Insurance Australia Limited ABN: 23 001 642 020 AFSL: 239687. Chubb®, its logos, and Chubb.Insured.SM are protected trademarks of Chubb.

Contact us
Contact us

Have questions?

Contact a broker today.