Time to wake up! The legislation around fire alarms installed in all Scottish homes is changing with the new standards being implemented from 22nd February 2022.
This legislation is being introduced now as a response to the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London. A Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety was established to review Scotland’s building and fire safety regulatory frameworks. This legislation was introduced in January 2019 and will ensure that everyone in Scotland has the same level of protection whether they own or rent their home.
SO, WHAT’S INVOLVED?
The new fire and smoke alarm standard requires:
- one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes
- one smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings
- one heat alarm installed in every kitchen
All alarms should be ceiling mounted and interlinked.
Where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (such as boilers, fires (including open fires) and heaters) or a flue, a carbon monoxide detector is also required which does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.
WHO WILL BE IMPACTED?
All housing types will be covered by the new standard, as it is important that all homes should be safe for occupants regardless of tenure. It will be the property owner’s responsibility to meet the new standard, however, the legal duty to enforce the standard rests with local authorities. Where owners are unable to meet the standard, it is not a criminal offence.
All homes must meet the minimum standard of the legislation and, where there is a requirement for specialist equipment, this should be installed in addition to the equipment installed to meet the standard (e.g. for deaf people or telecare/community alarms).
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE YOUR HOUSE COMPLIES?
These regulations were due to come into force in February 2021, however, in light of difficulties caused by COVID-19, the implementation of this legislation has been delayed for a period of 12 months to February 2022. Obviously, installing alarms at the earliest opportunity, will provide improved fire safety in your home.
If you already have smoke alarms fitted in your home but they are not interlinked you do need to change these to interlinked ones. The requirement of the legislation is to have all alarms interlinked. You may not hear the alarm closest to the fire but, by having an interlinked system, you will be alerted immediately.
HOW TO SELECT YOUR NEW ALARMS.
There are two types of alarms that comply with the new standard:
- Tamper proof long-life lithium battery alarms, which can be fitted by householders themselves or;
- Mains-wired alarms, which are cheaper than tamper proof long-life battery alarms, but should be installed by a qualified electrician in accordance with BS7671.
Although cheaper, mains-wired alarms are required to be installed by an electrician which will be an additional cost to homeowners. Any re-decoration to walls and/or ceilings should also be taken into consideration. You may also need a building warrant if you live in a flat.
Both types of alarms are available to purchase online or in store from many retailers. Some retailers are offering various payment methods which allow the cost of the new alarms to be split over a period rather than a one-off payment. Several retailers currently have dedicated sections on their website designed to help consumers in Scotland to buy alarms which meet the new standard and some are offering ‘bundles’ of these alarms which can be cost effective and makes the purchase process easier.
WHICH ALARMS WILL SUIT YOUR HOME BEST?
First choose whether you want battery powered alarms which you can fit yourself (or can be fitted by a handyperson if you don’t feel confident) or hard wired alarms that require to be fitted by a certified electrician.
If you choose battery alarms, they must be tamper proof long-life lithium battery powered and must be capable of being interlinked. The carbon monoxide alarm must have a sealed battery for the duration of its operational lifespan, which may be up to 10 years. If you are using an electrician to install alarms, you can also seek their advice on what alarms to buy as some may include alarms as part of their service.
Once you have chosen which system to install, choose a reputable brand, make sure the packaging clearly displays compliance with BS EN14604:2005 for smoke alarms and BS 5446-2:2003 for heat alarms.
Carbon monoxide alarms should have the British Kitemark (EN 50291-1)
Any costs of upgrading fire and smoke alarms is the responsibility of home owners and landlords. The cost of the alarms will vary according to what you currently have in place and the alarms you choose to install. It is estimated that the cost for an average three bedroom house which requires three new smoke alarms, one new heat alarm and one new carbon monoxide detector will be around £220. This is based on using the type of alarms that you can install by yourself without the need for an electrician.
Depending on your home situation there is some funding available for assistance and installation. However, as a general principle, home owners are responsible for the costs of on-going work needed to protect and preserve their own property. As with other housing standards, it will be the responsibility of the homeowner to meet the new fire and carbon monoxide alarm standard.
HOW WILL THE NEW STANDARDS BE MONITORED?
Most home owners want to make their homes as safe as possible. Compliance will also form part of any Home Report should you decide to sell your home. As this will be a minimum standard for safe houses, local authorities could use their statutory powers to require owners to carry out work on substandard housing.
You can find more details and the full information of the new standards here