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There's confusion amongst how owners about the impact of the new laws which mean that every home in Scotland must have interlinked fire alarms by February 2022.

And after claims that house-owners are being told by suppliers that every home has to be inspected and certificated for a fee, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar says people should contact their insurance companies.

Councillor Kenny John MacLeod, Chair of Communities and Housing Committee, said:  “Following discussions at Committee recently regarding the new requirements, we would urge all homeowners to ensure their homes have the appropriate alarms installed by the end of February, to contact their insurers for more detailed advice regarding their own individual policies, and encourage them to take up the opportunity to have a fire safety visit from the local Fire and Rescue Service.”

The new rules require:

  • One smoke alarm must be installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes;
  • One smoke alarm must be installed in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings;
  • One heat alarm must be installed in every kitchen;
  • All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked; and
  • Where there is a carbon-fueled appliance (such as boilers, fires (including open fires) and heaters) or a flue, a carbon monoxide detector is also required which does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.

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; and
  • mains-wired alarms – these are cheaper than tamper proof long-life battery alarms, but should be installed by a qualified electrician in accordance with BS7671.

Both types of alarm are interlinked by radio frequency, without the need for WiFi.

If the carbon monoxide alarm is battery operated, it must have a sealed battery for the duration of its lifespan, which may be up to 10 years.

Alarms should comply with the following standards:

  • smoke alarms: BS EN14604:2005;
  • heat alarms: BS 5446-2:2003; and
  • carbon monoxide detector: British Kitemark EN 50291-1.

There are special types of alarms for older people, people with disabilities or other special needs, which should also be interlinked.

Homeowners and landlords are expected to bear the cost of installations, but some help may be available if you are in a high-risk category, or on low incomes.

The Scottish Government 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.

The Western Isles branch of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has a supply of alarms which they can provide to homeowners who meet the high-risk criteria. A home fire safety visit can be requested online at https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/at-home/home-fire-safety-visit/, by calling 0800 0731 999, or by texting FIRE to 80800.

The local Care and Repair Service has also received funding from the Scottish Government to administer a fire alarms assistance package for older lower income and disabled homeowners. They may be contacted on 01851 706121 for further information and independent help and advice.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service say: “Different home insurance policies provided by different insurers will have varying terms and conditions which a homeowner must comply with in order for their home insurance to be valid.

"Anyone who is unclear about the terms and conditions of their specific policy in relation to the fire alarm requirements should get in touch with their home insurer in the first instance, to check whether the new requirements will be specifically included in their policy or not.”

Further information on the new requirements may be found here, on the Scottish Government’s website:

Make sure your home is fire safe - mygov.scot

And here, on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s website:

Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (firescotland.gov.uk)