24 November 2021

Aberdeenshire Council encourages residents to install new interlinked fire alarms as a matter of urgency

Aberdeenshire Council is encouraging residents to install new interlinked fire alarms as a matter of urgency ahead of next year’s deadline.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that from February 2022, new standards for fire and smoke alarms are being introduced through the implementation of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard) (Extension of Criterion) Order 2019. 

The Tolerable Standard is defined in housing legislation and prescribes a minimum standard a property must meet to be considered suitable for human habitation. Requirements are:

• Satisfactory equipment for detecting fire and giving warning in the event of fire or suspected fire
• One smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes (normally the living room/lounge)
• One smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings
• One heat alarm installed in every kitchen
• All smoke and heat alarms to be ceiling-mounted and all smoke and heat alarms to be interlinked

Interlinked fire alarms ‘talk’ to one other, so when one goes off, they all go off - helping everyone to react quicker and save more lives. You might not hear the alarm closest to the fire, especially if you’re somewhere else in the house, so an interlinked system alerts you to danger immediately wherever you are in your home.

There is no requirement for these alarms to be connected to mains electricity so you may choose to install 10-year battery operated, interlinked alarms yourself if you feel capable of doing so. Alternatively, a mains-wired system can be installed by a qualified electrician.

Both methods meet the new fire safety standard and both are linked by radio frequency without the need for WiFi.

Where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance in a property - such as boilers, fires (including open fires or heaters) or a flue, a carbon monoxide detector is also required which does not need to be linked to the fire alarms. CO detectors must also be fitted in all rooms where there is a fixed combustion appliance (excluding an appliance used solely for cooking) or a flue.

According to the Scottish Government, the cost of installation of an interlinked system with sealed long-life battery alarms for an average 3-bed home is around £220. Look for a recognised brand and 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

As consumers will be purchasing new alarm systems, our Trading Standards would urge them to carefully check that what they are buying is what is required and as consumers may be cold-called either by phone or in person at home by people offering to install systems, don’t feel pressurised into going ahead with a trader who calls out of the blue. 

Private landlords should already have interlinked fire alarms in their homes. If your rented property does not have interlinked fire alarms, speak to your landlord. Social landlords are carrying out a programme of work to make sure interlinked fire alarms are in place, so again speak to your landlord if you are waiting for interlinked fire alarms to be installed.

Paul Macari, Head of Planning and Economy at Aberdeenshire Council, explains: “In the interest of safety, I would encourage all residents to have these new interlinked fire alarms installed as a matter of urgency. As a council we continue to work towards the Scottish Government’s new standard for this type of detection equipment in our housing and if we are still to visit you, we would very much appreciate your co-operation in assisting our contractor to undertaking this very important work by allowing them into your home to carry out the upgrade required to the fire detection system.

“Most homeowners want to make their homes as safe as possible and compliance will, in time, form part of any Home Report when they come to sell their home. While the council will not be carrying out inspections to check compliance, please make elderly and vulnerable friends and neighbours aware of this.”

Should you wish further advice, you can contact the Environmental Health team at https://bit.ly/AbshireSmokeAlarms

Alternatively, visit the Aberdeenshire Council website at https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/environment/environmental-health/fire-and-smoke-alarms-tolerable-standard/

Watch this informative video online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MeEAUwuFjg