Following the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, the Scottish government is changing the law on interlinked fire alarms. From February 2022, every home in Scotland will need to be fitted with one of these systems.
Here’s a quick summary of the key points and how they will impact you.
What does the law change mean?
Occupants will need a smoke alarm in their living room (or most used room), an alarm in their hallway or landing and a heat alarm in the kitchen. All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked. When one alarm triggers, all alarms will then activate.
Any occupants who have carbon-fuelled appliances such as a boiler, fire, heater or flue – in any room – must also have a carbon monoxide detector in that room. However, the CO2 detector doesn’t need to be linked to the fire alarms.
Who is responsible for complying with the new law?
Homeowners are responsible for meeting this and other safety requirements. However, older and disabled homeowners on low incomes will get help with costs. The Care and Repair service can offer more information on this. Shared ownership residents are also, in this case, responsible for the installation of the interlinked system.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) carry out free Home Fire Safety visits and can fit interlinked alarms in owner-occupied homes where the resident is considered vulnerable and the household is assessed as ‘high risk’.
Even where this criteria is not met, SFRS staff can provide safety advice, information and details of the revised legislation during the visit. Interim detection can also be supplied if the property has no detectors at present.
To request a Home Fire Safety Visit contact SFRS on 0800 0731999 or text “FIRE” to 80800
In the private rented sector, landlords will be responsible for this installation.
Meanwhile, for council and housing association tenants, the relevant social landlord is responsible, and arrangements are underway between the government and providers to make sure the new requirement is met.
The new law does not impact on different homes in a shared property, such as a tenement or block of flats, and there is no need for alarms to be fitted in communal areas such as entry halls and stairways.
What types of alarms scan be used?
There are two types of alarm that can be used for smoke and heat, both are interlinked by radio frequency and do not need WiFi.
- Sealed battery alarms in tamper-proof units, with long-life lithium batteries. These can be fitted by the occupant. The estimated costs for this type of alarm fitted in a three-bedroomed house (three smoke alarms, one heat alarm and one carbon monoxide detector) is around £220. Rechargeable batteries cannot be used because the sensors in the alarm degrade over time and so will not be able to detect heat or smoke.
- Mains-wired alarms – these will need to be fitted by an electrician and replaced every decade, the unit cost is, however, cheaper than battery-operated ones.
For homeowners, installing a mains-powered system may require a building warrant to be obtained from the local authority verifier. Refer to Building Standards Customer Journey and local authority building standards service to check.
In terms of design standards, the smoke alarms must meet BS EN14604:2005 and heat alarms BS 5446-2:2003
Meanwhile, battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms must have a sealed battery and conform to British Kitemark EN 50291-1.
The Scottish government do not single out specific makes to use, but they have specified that the Nest Protect System will not meet the standard for heat alarms.
Specialist alarms – such as for deaf people or Telecare systems for older people (that include smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms)– should remain in place when interlinked heat and smoke alarms are installed.