Interlinked Fire Alarms to be Legal Requirement in February 2022

New national regulations come into play next month, so every home in Scotland must have interlinked fire alarms by February 2022.

It is an improvement on old requirements, mainly because interlinked systems mean if one alarm is activated, they all are. You may not always hear the alarm closest to the fire, especially if you’re somewhere else in the house. An interlinked system will alert you immediately and is therefore crucial to safety in your own home.

 

What you need to do

If you are a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to make sure your home meets the new fire alarms standard. By February 2022, every home will need to have:

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

All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked, but check the manufacturer’s guidance on each alarm for instructions on where the alarm should be placed.

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. Gas cookers and hobs do not need a carbon monoxide detector.

 

Examples

If you live in a three-bedroom, two-storey house will need three smoke alarms and one heat alarm. You may also need carbon monoxide alarms. You need:

  • Three linked smoke alarms:
    • on the upstairs landing
    • in the downstairs hall
    • in the living room
  • 1 linked heat alarm in the kitchen
  • 1 carbon monoxide alarm in any room where you have a carbon-fuelled appliance like a boiler or wood-burning fire place

 

If you live in a one-bedroom flat, you will need two smoke alarms and one heat alarm. You may also need carbon monoxide alarms. You need:

  • Two linked smoke alarms:
    • in the hall
    • in the living room
    • 1 linked heat alarm in the kitchen
  • 1 carbon monoxide alarm in any room where you have a carbon-fuelled appliance like a boiler or wood-burning fire place

 

If you have an open plan living room and kitchen you only need to have 1 alarm in this space and it should be a heat alarm.

 

The types of alarm you’ll need

There are 2 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.

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.

 

Tradespeople

Get help finding a tradesperson by searching the Approved Trader Directory or the Approved Certifier of Construction Scheme.

 

Smoke alarms and heat alarms

Smoke alarms work by detecting particles of smoke.  Heat alarms work by detecting very high temperature. Heat alarms are less sensitive than smoke alarms and are recommended where there is a risk of false alarms from smoke due to open fireplaces or cooking accidents, for example where you might burn food.

 

Cost of alarms and what to look out for

The cost for an interlinked 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.

You should:

  • look for a recognised brand
  • use a reputable retailer
  • read online reviews
  • 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

 

Will your home insurance be affected?

This depends on the terms and conditions of your home insurance policy. Contact your insurer to check if the new fire alarms requirements are included in your policy.

 

What you should do with your old alarms

Most smoke and heat alarms can be recycled, either at home in your recycling bin or at any recycling centre.

 

Specialist alarms including Telecare systems

Any specialist alarms, for example if you are deaf or have a Telecare system, should be fitted in addition to the interlinked smoke and heat alarms and the carbon monoxide alarm. Do not remove any existing Telecare alarms.

Find out more about Telecare and fire safety.

 

If you rent

Check what you need to do if you rent through a private landlord or through social housing.

 

Caravans

The new legislation does not apply to caravans.

 

Garages

You only need a fire alarm in a garage if you use it as a living area.  If your garage is connected to your home and your boiler is stored there then you will need a carbon monoxide detector.

 

Further help and advice

For more detailed information you can read The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (Tolerable Standard) (Extension of Criteria) Order 2019 , and the related guidance.

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