New Scottish Laws On Interlinked Smoke & Fire Alarms
Keep reading for answers to frequently asked questions on the new legislation
Is Your Home Compliant?
By February 2022
All Homes Are Required To Meet The New Legislation
The new Scottish legislation states that an interlinked Fire and Smoke alarm system must be fitted in a property and that there should be adequate Carbon Monoxide protection.
This change to Tolerable Standard legislation has been introduced as a direct result of recent fire tragedies and covers all homes, in both the private and social housing sectors.
Here are answers to some common questions
New Standards For Fire & Smoke Alarms In Scotland
What are the new fire and smoke alarm standards and how many alarms are required to ensure I comply?
To comply with the new standards you should have
- one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes (e.g. your living room).
- one smoke alarm in every circulation space on each level (e.g. your hallway & landing)
- one heat alarm installed in every kitchen
All of these alarms should be ceiling-mounted and interlinked.
If you have a carbon-fuelled appliance (e.g boiler, open fire or wood-burning stove) or a flue, a carbon monoxide detector is also required in that room. This does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.
What types of housing do the new standards apply to?
The new standards apply to all homes in Scotland. This is to ensure that everyone is safe in their home, regardless of tenure.
The property owner is responsible for meeting the new standard. However, local authorities are responsible for the legal duty to enforce the new standard.
Where property owners are unable to meet the standard, it is not a criminal offence.
What are the reasons for the new legislation?
In order to review Scotland’s building & fire safety regulatory frameworks, a Ministerial Working Groupon Building & Fire Safety was established. This was in response to the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London.
The legislation was initially introduced in January 2019. From February 2022, the new laws will ensure that everyone in Scotland has the same level of protection in their home, regardless of tenure.
How long do I have to install the alarms?
The new law came into force on 1 February 2022, but it provides flexibility for people to fit the necessary alarms within a ‘reasonable period’ after this deadline.
No one will be criminalised if they need more time, and there are no penalties for non-compliance. However, the sooner you have the new alarm system installed, the safer your home will be.
To arrange a free survey, please contact us.
Types of interlinked alarm systems
I already have smoke alarms fitted in my home but they are not interlinked. Do they need to be changed interlinked smoke alarms?
Yes – all fire & smoke alarms need to be interlinked. An interlinked system allows you to hear an alarm, regardless of where the fire breaks out.
Are there different requirements for people who need special alarms?
All homes must meet the minimum standard. If people need specialist equipment (e.g for alarms deaf people or community alarms), this should be fitted in addition to the equipment that should be installed to meet the standard.
There are so many alarms. Which ones do I need & how do I get them?
You can choose from two types of alarms that comply with the new standard:
- Tamper-proof long-life lithium battery alarms, which can be fitted by the home owner or anyone competent in DIY;
- 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.
Further detailed information on the requirements of the standard, including the types of alarms, is set out in the Tolerable Standard Guidance Chapters 16 and 17.
Numerous retailers can supply alarms online & in their shops. Approved alarm installers such as ourselves can also advise on which alarms you need, as well as supplying & fitting them for you.
Please contact us to arrange your free survey.
Which alarms are best for my home?
Your first choice is between battery-powered alarms or hard-wired alarms. You can fit battery-powered alarms yourself, whereas hard-wired alarms need to be installed by an electrician.
Battery alarms 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 already have hard-wired smoke alarms in your home, it may be possible to use a mix of hard-wired & battery-powered alarms…as long as they can be interlinked.
Approved smoke alarm installers such as ourselves will be able to give you advice on your options and supply/fit the alarms if required. Contact us to arrange a free survey.
Once you have chosen your system, order a good brand of alarm. You need to ensure 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).
Does the Nest Protect System meet the new standard?
Important: the Nest Protect System does not meet the new standard.
Why is this? They do not meet the requirements for a heat alarm under the relevant British Standard. British Standard (BS 5839-6:2019) makes it clear that only heat alarms should be installed in kitchens.
Can the alarms be interlinked wirelessly, or will hard-wiring be required?
The legislation allows for alarms to be either hard-wired or sealed, tamper-proof long-life lithium battery powered. Both types of alarms can be interlinked by radio frequency, and it’s also possible to link battery-powered alarms to hard-wired alarms.
Can I use rechargable batteries instead of having to replace the alarms?
No – this is not possible as sensors in the alarm degrade over time. This degradation causes reduced sensitivity in the detection of heat or smoke, resulting in the alarm system needing to be replaced. All alarm systems detail information on how long the device will last & when it should be replaced. Some of them will last up to 10 years.
Cost Of Interlinked Alarms & Financial Support
If you are a home owner, who pays for the alarms?
All costs need to be met by the home owners and landlords. How much you actually pay will vary according to what you currently have in place and the alarms you choose to install.
The Scottish Government estimates that the cost for an average three-bedroom house which requires three smoke alarms, one heat alarm and one 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.
The Scottish Government has, over the period 2018-20, provided the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) with £1m funding to install these alarms in the homes of people assessed to be at high risk from fire as part of a Home Fire Safety Visit.
Is there any financial support for pensioners and disabled people to help cover the costs of upgraded alarm systems?
As with other housing standards, the homeowner will be responsible for the costs of ensuring their home meets the new standard for fire & carbon monoxide alarms.
Your local authority will have broad discretionary powers to provide advice and assistance to home owners with work needed to look after their homes.
The local Care & Repair service is also available to older & disabled homeowners. They may be able to provide assistance
Older and disabled homeowners can also contact their local Care and Repair service which can provide independent advice and assistance to repair, improve or adapt their homes, allowing them to live in comfort and safety in their own community.
I am a tenant of the local authority or a housing association. When will my alarm system get upgraded?
Local authority and housing association landlords) are aware of the new standard, and are working to ensure all homes are meeting the required standard by February 2022.
Over £15m of loan funding has been made available for Social Landlords by the Scottish Government, ensuring that social tenants are safe in their homes. The new standard will be monitored by the Scottish Housing Regulator, who may intervene as they deem appropriate for any non-compliance.
I have shared ownership of my home with a housing association. Is it correct that I am responsible for making sure that my house complies with the standard?
Responsibilities for condition standards for shared ownership properties will have been set out in your occupancy agreement.
Usually, as the proportion owner, it will be your responsibility to meet the fire & smoke alarm standard (rather than the registered social landlord).
As a tenant in a privately rented property, how do I make sure my landlord complies with the new smoke & fire alarm standard?
As the new standards for fire and smoke alarms extend those which currently apply in the Private Rented Sector PRS to housing of all tenures, your landlord should already be complying. The standard is enforced by the right of tenants to apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber), so if you believe that your landlord is failing to comply, you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal. Penalties for non-compliance would be determined by the Tribunal.
Advice & Information
Is it still possible to book a free Home Fire Safety Visit from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)?
Due to the pandemic, the SFRS has stopped Home Fire Safety Visits, except for “High Risk” occupiers.
The SFRS is still accepting requests for visits to be arranged at a later date. You can also get tailored advice by using their online Home Fire Safety Checker.
Will the new regulations affect my home insurance policy?
This will depend on your insurance company. Home insurance policies provided by different insurers will have different terms and conditions. For the homeowner’s insurance to be valid, they need to comply with these terms & conditions.
Our advice is for the home owner to contact their insurer in the first instance, to check whether the new requirements will be specifically included in their policy or not.
Book A Free Survey
We offer free surveys to assess the system you have in place & what will be required to help your home meet the new standard. After all installations, we also issue a certificate of compliance to BS5839 for the installed system.
As we are both AICO Expert Installers & NICEIC Approved Contractors you can have confidence in the quality of our advice & workmanship. We have been installing fire, smoke & carbon monoxide alarms for years & you can follow this link to read more about our fire & smoke alarm service.
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