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Homes in Scotland now need to have interlinked smoke alarms

Written by: Edward Danks
03 February 2022

1 February 2022 sees new legislation requiring every home in Scotland to have interlinked smoke alarms come into effect. In 2019 the legislation was brought in following the Grenfell Tower fire but its implementation has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to ensure everyone living in Scotland has the same level of protection whether they’re a homeowner or tenant.

Who does the interlinked smoke alarms legislation apply to?

The standards proposed already apply to new build and private rented housing. The legislation now extends to all property owners. That includes those who own private homes. If you are living in private rented accommodation, your landlord is responsible for installing the alarms.

What does every home now need to have?smoke alarm blog

Every home now needs to have:

  • A smoke alarm in the room most frequently used for living purposes during the day
  • A smoke alarm in every circulation space – that means each hallway and, if you live in a two (or more) storey house, you need to have a smoke alarm in the hall or landing on each level
  • One heat alarm in every kitchen in the house
  • A carbon monoxide detector where any carbon fuelled appliance is located – this includes a central heating boiler as well as open fires and heaters

The smoke and heat alarms need to be interlinked. The carbon monoxide detector does not need to be interlinked. This means that when one smoke or heat alarm is triggered, all of the other alarms will also sound.

The rationale for this is that if there is, for instance, a fire in the kitchen when everyone in the family is in the living room, all alarms will sound thus alerting the family to the danger. 

What is the difference between interlinked smoke alarms and the smoke alarms I already have in my house?

“Stand alone” smoke alarms only sound in the room where the alarm is triggered. Interlinked smoke (and heat) alarms all sound at the same time irrespective of which room has triggered the alarm.

There are two options for these new types of alarms. They can either be connected to the electricity mains or run from batteries. If you intend to have mains-connected alarms, it is recommended that you have these professionally installed. The battery powered versions come as sealed units – that means you can’t replace the battery. They have a lifespan of 10 years and need to be replaced after that.

The heat, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms must comply with certain standards:

  • Heat alarms – BS 5446-2:2003
  • Smoke alarms – BS EN14604:2005
  • Carbon monoxide detector: British Kitemark EN50291-1

Please ensure that you purchase the correct alarms if you are fitting them yourself.

Will I be prosecuted if I don’t have alarms in my house?

It is not a criminal offence if you do not install these new types of alarm. However, local authorities will be responsible for enforcing this legislation. They will not enter people’s homes to inspect them, and they will not issue fines.

However, they could require homeowners to fit the necessary alarms. At the moment, the expectation is that Councils will advise property owners about these alarms.

If there are no apparent sanctions, why should I bother?

If these alarms are not fitted and you are selling your house, the lack of compliant alarms will be highlighted in the Home Report.

Whilst home insurers have indicated that lack of the new alarms will not lead to loss of cover on existing home insurance policies, it is likely that you will need to comply when your home insurance policy comes up for renewal. You should always read the terms and conditions when you receive your renewal to ensure you will be covered.

Is there any financial assistance for installing interlinked smoke alarms?

Disabled and older people can access financial assistance through Care and Repair Scotland. It has recently been given an additional £500,000 to help vulnerable older and disabled people install fire alarms. You can read about their assistance by clicking here.

To be eligible:

  • You must live and own your home.
  • The house must have a Council Band Taxing between A and C
  • You must be of state pension age and in receipt of guaranteed Pension Credit, or
  • Have a disability and be in a support group for Employment and Support Allowance.

Where can I find out more information?

More information about interlinked smoke alarms is available on the Scottish Government website. You can click here to find out more.

Written by:

Edward Danks

After graduating from the University of Dundee, Edward joined the firm in 1996. He lives in North Berwick with his wife and family. Outside office hours, Edward is likely to be found on one of the many local golf courses. He works hard at maintaining his handicap of three. Edward is also the Head Coach for the under 9 and under 11 teams with North Berwick Girls Football Club and in his spare time enjoys five-a-side football and tennis.

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