Safety Alarms – Smoke BS EN14604:2005 – Heat BS 5446-2:2003

Safety alarms in your home are generally going to become a legal requirement.

Building and fire safety regulatory frameworks were reviewed following the fire at Grenfell Tower in London and legislation was introduced in January 2019, but implementation was delayed due to COVID19 restrictions.

Scotland will become the first United Kingdom country to introduce tougher legislation, from February 2022, but if you’re from anywhere else in the United Kingdom, then you can bet this will apply to you sooner or later.

And if you’re from the rest of the world, your government will be cooking up something similar!

Anyways, it is probably a good idea to get this home protection sooner rather than later.

This is what homeowners, tenants and landlords need to know about changes in legislation, relating to smoke and heat alarms, as well as carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.

All homes are included and it is the owner’s responsibility for compliance.

Local authorities will have a legal duty to enforce the regulations, although at this stage it will not be a prosecutable offence (in the future, you can guess?).

 

Specifications Of Alarms

Smoke alarms should comply to BS EN14604:2005

Heat alarms should comply to BS 5446-2:2003

Carbon monoxide detectors should have the British Kitemark (EN 50291-1)

Check the labelling and packaging carefully.

 

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General Requirements Of The New Standard

One smoke alarm for your main, frequently used, daytime living room.

One smoke alarm for each level, generally in a hallway or landing, but specifically in a circulation area.

One heat alarm in any kitchen areas.

All of the alarms need to be ceiling mounted and interlinked (any existing alarms which are not interlinked will NOT comply).

Interlinked alarms alert you to problems in other areas, which you may not be immediately aware of and therefore have a delayed response to any emergencies.

A carbon monoxide detector is also required where you have a carbon-fuelled appliance, including open fires and boilers or a flue (but this doesn’t need to be interlinked to the other alarms).

Q: Are the requirements different for people who need specialist alarms?

A: The legislation applies to all homes which must meet the minimum standard and, where there is a requirement for specialist equipment, this should be installed in addition to the equipment installed to meet the standard (eg for deaf people or telecare/community alarms).

Tamper-Proof Long-Life Lithium Battery Alarms

Q: There are lots of different types of alarms available – which ones should I get and where can I buy them?

A: There are two types of alarms that comply with the new standard:

Tamper proof long-life lithium battery alarms, which can be fitted by householders themselves or;

Mains-wired alarms, which are cheaper than tamper proof long-life battery alarms, but should be installed by a qualified electrician in accordance with BS7671.

Mains-wired alarms, however, are required to be installed by an electrician which will be an additional cost to homeowners.

Any re-decoration to walls and/or ceilings should be taken into consideration. You may also need a building warrant if you live in a flat.

Further detailed information on the requirements of the standard, including the types of alarms, is set out in the Tolerable Standard Guidance Chapters 16 and 17.

Both types of alarms are available to purchase online or in store from a number of retailers. Some retailers are offering various payment methods which allow the cost of the new alarms to be split over a period of time rather than a one off payment.

Some retailers currently have dedicated sections on their website designed to help consumers in Scotland to buy alarms which meet the new standard and we hope that more retailers will also do this. Some retailers are offering ‘bundles’ of these alarms which can be cost effective and makes the purchase process easier.

 

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How do I Choose Which Alarms Are Best For Me?

A: First choose whether you want battery powered alarms which you can fit yourself (or can be fitted by a handyperson if you don’t feel confident) or hard wired alarms that require to be fitted by an electrician.

If you choose battery alarms, they must be tamper proof long-life lithium battery powered and must be capable of being interlinked. The carbon monoxide alarm must have a sealed battery for the duration of its operational lifespan, which may be up to 10 years. If you are using an electrician to install alarms, you can also seek their advice on what alarms to buy as some may include alarms as part of their service.

Battery Alarm System (self-install)

Hard Wired System (requires professional fitting by electrician)

A system of interconnected battery-powered detectors powered by a sealed tamper-proof primary battery or batteries

A system of interconnected mains powered detectors, each with a tamper-proof standby supply consisting of a battery or batteries

A system of interconnected mains-powered detectors, each with an integral standby supply consisting of a user-replaceable battery or batteries.

Please note: the Nest Protect System will not meet the standard. This is because they do not meet the requirements for a heat alarm under the relevant British Standard. British Standard (BS 5839-6:2019) makes it clear that only heat alarms should be installed in kitchens.

Q: Can the interlinking of alarms be done wirelessly, or will hardwiring be required?

A: The regulations allow for alarms to be either hardwired or sealed, tamper proof long-life lithium battery powered. Both types of alarm can be interlinked by radio frequency

Q: Will it be necessary for tenements to have linked alarms between individual residences?

A: In a shared property such as a tenement or block of flats there is no requirement for different properties to be linked to each other. There is no requirement for alarms to be fitted in communal areas such as entry halls and stairways.

 

Replaceable Batteries/Sensors

Q: Would it be possible to use rechargeable batteries instead of having to replace them?

A: Unfortunately, this is not possible as sensors in the alarm will degrade over time leading to a reduced sensitivity in detecting heat or smoke, resulting in the alarm system needing to be replaced. Any alarm that is purchased will contain information on its usability time period and you should check the date on which the system must be replaced – this can be up to 10 years.

Sealed, tamper proof battery units are safer than those which allow the user to change the batteries – there have been several tragedies over the years where alarms have not functioned because batteries have expired or people have removed them.

 

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Costs Of Alarms And Financial Assistance

Q: I own my home – who will pay for these alarms?

A: Any costs will be the responsibility of home owners and landlords. The cost of the alarms will vary according to what you currently have in place and the alarms you choose to install. We estimate that the cost for an average three bedroom house which requires three smoke alarms, one heat alarm and one carbon monoxide detector will be around £220. This is based on using the type of alarms that you can install by yourself without the need for an electrician.

Q: Will there be any financial assistance provided to pensioners and disabled people to help meet the costs of alarm installations?

A: As a general principle, home owners are responsible for the costs of on-going work needed to protect and preserve their own property. As with other housing standards, it will be the responsibility of the homeowner to meet the new fire and carbon monoxide alarm standard. Local authorities have broad discretionary powers to provide advice and assistance to home owners with work needed to look after their homes.

Older and disabled homeowners can also contact their local Care and Repair service who provide independent advice and assistance to repair, improve or adapt their homes so that they can live in comfort and safety in their own community.

Q: I have shared ownership of my home with a housing association. I have been told that I am responsible for making sure that my house complies with the standard, is this correct?

A: For shared ownership properties, as with other condition standards, responsibilities are set out in the occupancy agreement. However, in general, it is your responsibility as the proportion owner, rather than the registered social landlord, to meet the new fire and smoke alarm standard.

 

Compliance With The New Standard

Most home owners want to make their homes as safe as possible and compliance will also form part of any Home Report when they come to sell their home.

As this will be a minimum standard for safe houses, local authorities could use their statutory powers to require owners to carry out work on substandard housing, although we would expect any intervention to be proportionate.

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 and smoke 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.

 

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Posted on: August 22, 2021, by :

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