Some Stirling Council homes fail to meet new interlinked fire alarm rules deadline



Some council homes in the Stirling area have missed the deadline for new interlinked fire alarms to be installed.

However, officers have said the authority’s housing stock is well on its way to compliance.

Under new Scottish Government legislation every home in Scotland must have: one smoke alarm in the living room or or the room you use most; one in every hallway and landing; and one in the kitchen. All smoke and heat alarms should be ceiling mounted and be interlinked.

If you have a carbon-fueled appliance – such as a boiler, fire, heater or flue – in any room, you must also have a carbon monoxide detector in that room, although that does not to be linked to the fire alarms.

While the new law came into force on February 1 this year, the Scottish Government has said there is “flexibility for people to fit the necessary alarms within a ‘reasonable period’ after this deadline”.

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They add that, while “no one will be criminalized if they need more time, and there are no penalties for non-compliance”, they would “encourage” everyone to install the alarms as they can help save lives.

Older and disabled homeowners on low incomes may get help with costs but otherwise homeowners and landlords are responsible for the costs. These are estimated at around £220 for an average three bedroom house (based on using alarms you can install by yourself without the need for an electrician).

At a recent meeting of Stirling Council’s environment and housing committee, however, officers said the costs to the council were around £400 per property, including staff time, with around 82 per cent compliant.

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Delays, they added, had been down to both supply of materials and availability of resources, with retention and recruitment issues both within the council’s team and external contractors.

A total of 690 properties were thought to still need the fully interlinked system, with a target of March 31 for full compliance, however all had an existing smoke alarm system meantime.

Asked by SNP councillor Susan McGill about the impact on house insurance, officers said some insurers had indicated that, as long as there were smoke alarms in the property, they would still be covered, but this would have to be checked.

Tory councillor Martin Earl said he had contacted his own insurers who, “after a bit of back and forth”, eventually said his policy would not be compromised.

Latest advice from the Scottish Government on the impact of the new legislation on household insurance is: “Different home insurance policies will have different terms and conditions which a homeowner must comply with in order for their home insurance to be valid.

“If you are not sure how the new fire and smoke alarm requirements affect your policy, get in touch with your insurer to find out.”

A number of local politicians have criticized the way the new rules have been introduced.

Mid Scotland and Fife Labor MSP Alex Rowley recently described the changes as “chaotic”. He said many older constituents in particular were “deeply worried”, either because they can’t afford the new alarms or don’t know where to get them.

He added: “I appreciate that the Government has said it will take a ‘light-touch’ approach to enforcement, but this does not alleviate the worries that many people are experiencing across Scotland trying to obey the new rules, nor does it address the worries they have around their homes being insured.

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Tory Mid Scotland & Fife MSP, Dean Lockhart has said he is supportive of the plans to make homes safer but that the Scottish Government had failed to adequately publicize the changes.

And fellow Tory Mid Scotland and Fife MP Alexander Stewart, said he had had many constituents’ inquiries from across the Bridge of Allan, Dunblane and Stirling.

He added: “There is no guidance as to what [timescale the Scottish Government] suggest as ‘reasonable’ and that will lead to confusion.”

Further information can be found at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/fire-and-smoke-alarms-in-scottish-homes/#history




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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