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Interlinked smoke alarms: Are you ready for the changes coming on February 1?

The law on fire alarms is set to change in Scotland.

The law on fire alarms is set to change in Scotland, which means by February 1 every home must have interlinked smoke alarms.

This follows the Grenfell Tower tragedy and when it comes into effect Scotland will  become the first nation in the UK to have such legislation.

But what exactly does the new law mean in practice and how will it impact families across the country?

The new smoke alarm requirements

The change in the law means that by February 1 every home will need to have:

  • one smoke alarm in the room you spend most of the day, usually your living room
  • one smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings
  • one heat alarm in the kitchen

All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked. Being interlinked means if one alarm goes off, they all go off.

If you have a carbon-fuelled appliance, like a boiler, fire, heater or flue you must also have a carbon monoxide detector. This does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.

Are special alarms required?

There are two types of interlinked fire alarms that meet the new rules:

  • sealed battery alarms – which should be tamper-proof long-life (which can be up to 10 years) batteries. You can fit these alarms yourself.
  • mains-wired alarms – these are cheaper than tamper proof long-life battery alarms but should be installed by a qualified electrician. These should be replaced every 10 years.

It is advised to check that each alarm complies with the following standards:

  • Smoke alarms: BS EN14604:2005
  • Heat alarms: BS 5446-2:2003 
  • Carbon monoxide detectors: British Kitemark EN 50291-1

What is the cost?

The Scottish Government says that cost for an interlinked smoke alarm system with sealed long-life battery alarms in a two-storey house is around £220 – if you fit the alarms yourself.

There will be an extra cost if you get a tradesperson to fit them for you.

Is there financial help available?

Any costs will be the responsibility of home owners and landlords, and will depend on what you currently have in place and the alarms you choose to install.

However, the government has provided £500,000 funding to allow Care and Repair Scotland to support eligible older and disabled homeowners with installation.

What do I have to do if I rent?

Private landlords should already have interlinked smoke alarms in their homes. If your rented property does not have interlinked alarms,  you should speak to your landlord.

If your landlord fails to comply, you have the right to apply to a tribunal.

Social landlords are carrying out a programme of work to make sure interlinked fire alarms are in place. Speak to your landlord if you are waiting for interlinked fire alarms to be installed.

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