Blog: Fire and smoke alarm regulations

Housing minister Kevin Stewart

Housing minister Kevin Stewart outlines plans to make fire & smoke alarm regulations safer for all homes in Scotland.

I recently announced that the Scottish Government would be strengthening the current standards we have in place for fire and smoke alarms to ensure all homes have the highest level of protection by the end of 2020.

Fire alarms are proven to save lives and are one of the most important investments you can make to protect life and property and if you are a tenant in the private rented sector then you will already be used to this protection. We want that to be extended to everyone, whether they own their homes or rent; and our recent consultation on fire and smoke alarms showed strong support..

One of the new improvements for owner occupiers and tenants in the social housing sector is the increased alarm coverage. The new guidance specifies the following requirements:

  • 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
  • All alarms should be interlinked.

Having an interlinked system means you will be alerted immediately, regardless of the room in which the alarm is triggered, increasing the chance to escape.

Regulations

We plan to introduce legislation in Autumn 2018 to amend the legislation on this matter and there will be a further two year compliance period. However, I’d always encourage everyone to install alarms in their home at the earliest opportunity to provide improved fire safety for everyone.

I believe that most home owners will want to make their homes as safe as possible and Home Fire Safety visits from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service can be arranged, advising homeowners on fire safety and how to comply with the standards.

There is no change to what would happen now if home owners don’t comply with the current requirements – local authorities could, in principle, force owners to carry out work using their statutory powers however any intervention would be proportionate.

Compliance will also form part of any Home Report and it may be introduced as a requirement by home insurance companies.

I am confident that most people, recognising the benefits of improved fire safety, will want to comply ahead of the new standard becoming mandatory.

Cost

Any costs will be the responsibility of home owners and the cost of each mid-range sealed long-life battery alarm is between £40 and £80. Mains-wired alarms are generally cheaper than the sealed long-life battery alarms; however, installation will need to be carried out by an electrician which will be an additional cost to consider.

We estimate the cost for an average two bedroom, two storey house could be between £160 and £280. A one bedroom flat should cost between £120 and £200.

It may seem like a lot, but, to quote Leonora Montgomery, a member of the Tenant and Residents Fire Safety Panel who took part in the consultation:

“I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has responded so quickly to the Grenfell tragedy and I’m pleased that this will become legislation. I feel strongly that everyone deserves the same level of protection from fire, whether you are renting or own your home.

“As an owner, it will cost me around £200 to buy and fit the alarms but, as they last for ten years, this will work out at £20 a year – not much when you consider that it could save not only my life, but the lives of other residents in my block.”

Further advice on fire safety is provided by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Q&A is also available on the Scottish Government website.

This article was originally published on the Scottish Government website.