A new smoke alarm law, which went into effect in Scotland on 1 February 2022 requires every home to have interlinked smoke and heat alarms in their properties. This means that when one alarm goes off, all alarms are activated helping to ensure occupants can hear it from anywhere within the property.
What is the new legislation?
Interlinked smoke alarm systems have been a requirement for private rental homes and new builds for over 10 years in Scotland, but following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, changes were made to the Housing (Scotland) Act in 2019 to include all homes in Scotland, irrespective of their age or type. Introduction of the new legislation was delayed until February 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the new rules, all property owners are now required to ensure that suitable smoke alarms are correctly installed in their properties. Scotland is the first nation in the UK to legally require all owner-occupied and socially rented homes to have interlinked smoke alarms. During 2020-21, 44 people died as a result of residential fires in Scotland and it is hoped that the new legislation will help to reduce the number of fatalities and improve fire safety in homes.
What does the Scottish fire and alarm system law require?
The number of fire and smoke alarms required will vary according to the size of the property. However, in order to comply with the legislation, every residential dwelling in Scotland must now have the following installed:
One smoke alarm in the living room or room most frequently used during the daytime
One smoke alarm in each hallway or landing
One heat alarm in every kitchen
All smoke and heat alarms must also be ceiling mounted and interlinked. Furthermore, if the property has carbon-fuelled appliances, such as a boiler, fire, heater or flue, you must install a carbon monoxide detector in the same room as the appliance. This does not need to be interlinked to the alarm system.
What type of alarm should you install?
Either sealed battery or mains wired alarms are acceptable as both types can be interlinked by radio frequency, which means they don’t need to be wired or connected to the WiFi.
Battery alarms must be sealed and tamper-proof and have long-life lithium batteries, which can last up to 10 years.
Mains-wired alarm systems should have a battery back-up and must be installed by a qualified electrician and replaced every 10 years. These types of systems are generally viewed as being the cheaper option of the two.
If you also install battery operated carbon monoxide alarms, these must have a sealed battery for the duration of its lifespan, which can be up to 10 years.
Before purchasing or having a smoke or fire alarm fitted, always check that the alarm complies with the current standards:
Smoke alarms BS EN14604:2005
Heat alarms BS 5446-2:2003
Carbon monoxide detector British Kitemark EN 50291-1
Once installed, all alarms must be regularly maintained and tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Who is responsible under the new law?
All homeowners are responsible for ensuring that their property has an interlinked fire and smoke alarm system.
Homeowners who live in a tenement or block of flats do not need to link their alarms to other alarms in the building or fit alarms in communal hallways, landings or stairways.
If you live in a shared ownership scheme, details of who is responsible should be clearly set out in the occupancy agreement, however, as a general rule, it will be the responsibility of the proportion owner to meet the new rules.
Private landlords should already have interlinked alarms in their property but as the changes to the law include social rented homes, social landlords are now also required to have interlinked fire and smoke alarms installed in their properties.
Who enforces the law?
Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that homeowners and landlords comply with the new legislation and can force a property’s owner to make changes to meet the required safety standards.
It’s worth noting that when a property is sold, the surveyor will check compliance and all findings will be noted in the Home Report.
What are the costs?
The Scottish Government has estimated that it will cost around £220 to fit the required number of sealed battery alarms in a three-bedroom house. This is based on three interlinked smoke alarms, one heat alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has been given £1m towards the cost of installing fire and smoke alarms in the homes of people assessed to be at high risk of fire, while the elderly, disabled and those on low income may be eligible to receive assistance through Care and Repair Scotland
We’re here to help
At Kidde we work to help keep people and property safe from fire and related hazards. Having interlinked alarms installed in a property gives people the earliest possible warning of fire and allows them to take the necessary action as quickly as possible.
If you need advice or help with meeting Scotland’s updated fire safety regulations, our technical teams can help advise to make sure you have the right equipment in all areas of your home.
For further information on the Scottish fire and smoke regulations, please visit: