Scottish Labour has called on the Scottish Government to delay the introduction of new regulations to make homes safer and control fire risks.
The party says there are mounting problems with the scheme, which has already been delayed by a year and arose from concerns following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster in London.
In addition to concerns about affordability and public awareness, the Government recently admitted that “some manufacturers are facing supply issues”.
Scottish Labour’s housing spokesperson Mark Griffin said: “It is beyond ridiculous to plough ahead with this law change when people can’t even buy the equipment required.
“This adds to mounting concerns on everything from affordability and public awareness.
“The SNP’s failure to acknowledge the chaos engulfing this scheme is simply astounding.
“This was a chance to improve safety in millions of homes – but the SNP’s total lack of preparation has made it completely unworkable, leaving us with no option but to delay again.
“These must be pushed back by another year.”
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant added:“I don’t expect anyone would disagree with the policy, just the timing and cost of it when a lot of people are already severely stretched with increasing fuel bills and can’t afford to buy the equipment needed or to pay to have it fitted.
The new rules for homes require that by February:
- 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.