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interlinked smoke alarms and a wireless remote

Brief Guide to Interlinked Smoke Alarms (Scotland)

July 12, 2022

You may have heard about the new requirements in relation to smoke and heat alarms in Scotland.

This short guide will provide some more information about what's required, and how to ensure you comply.

Why is this new legislation being introduced?

Scottish fire safety legislation was updated in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 71 people (1, 2).

The new legislation guarantees all Scottish households renting properties the same level of protection, regardless of the ownership or rent.

This means that all renters in Scotland will have access to appropriate fire safety measures, such as fire escapes and alarms.

The updated legislation is an important step forward in ensuring that all Scots are safe from fires, regardless of their housing situation.

It is vital that everyone in Scotland is able to live in a property that is safe from the risk of a fire, and this new legislation goes a long way towards achieving that goal.

What does this mean for homeowners?

If you're a homeowner in Scotland, then you'll need to ensure that your smoke alarms are interconnected. This means that if one smoke alarm goes off, then all of the others will also sound.

You can achieve this by purchasing wireless or hardwired interlinked alarms.

The types of alarm you'll need

To comply with Scottish law, homeowners must ensure their home has:

  • 1 smoke alarm in the main room used for general daytime living purposes, usually in the living room

  • 1 smoke alarm in every circulation space, such as hallways and landing areas

  • 1 heat alarm in the kitchen

These smoke and heat alarms must be interlinked, and there are specific product standards that each alarm must comply with.

Product standards for interlinked smoke and heat alarms

  • Smoke alarm standard: BS EN14604:2005

  • Heat alarm standard: BS 5446-2:2003

Carbon monoxide alarms are also included in the new legislation

Each carbon fuelled appliance needs one carbon monoxide detector

You may also have to install carbon monoxide detectors if you don't already have them. A carbon monoxide alarm doesn't have to be interlinked, but you do require a carbon monoxide alarm for each room where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance such as a gas boiler.

If you have an existing carbon monoxide alarm, it's worth checking that it hasn't expired.

It's worth remembering that carbon monoxide is tasteless, odourless and invisible, therefore we believe it is vital that you are alerted to a potential carbon monoxide leak as soon as possible.

Your carbon monoxide detector must comply with BS EN 50291-1, and if it's battery-powered it should have a tamper-proof, long-life lithium battery.

How many smoke alarms do I need?

Looking at the standards mentioned above, we can use the following example home to show you what smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms are often required:

Average three bedroom house with downstairs hallway and an upstairs landing, and a gas boiler in the kitchen.

This example home would require:

  • 3 smoke alarms (1 for the hallway, 1 for the landing, 1 for the living room)

  • 1 heat detector (for the kitchen)

  • 1 carbon monoxide detector (for the gas boiler in the kitchen)

Due to each home having potentially different requirements, it's best to avoid pre-made alarm "packs" and instead make sure you get the correct number and type of alarms for your home.

Want to find out exactly what you need in under 30 seconds? Use our instant survey tool to find out exactly what your home needs and what it will cost.

Understanding the difference between smoke and heat alarms

Smoke alarms are designed to detect smoke, while heat alarms are designed to detect an increase in temperature.

The reason both alarms exist is that it is not always appropriate to install a smoke alarm in each area of the home.

For example, in a kitchen, there can quite often be smoke from cooking or burnt toast. This is rarely a sign of fire, and yet, if you have a smoke alarm in your kitchen you can expect frequent false alarms.

In these circumstances, a heat alarm installed in the kitchen would be more appropriate, as it won't be triggered by smoke. Instead, if there was to be a fire in the kitchen, the temperature would rise very quickly, and the heat alarm would sense that and trigger.

How much will it cost?

The cost to install legislation-compliant smoke and heat alarms in a typical three-bedroom house will be around £220. This is based on using wireless, battery-powered alarms and installing them yourself.

If you decide to go for hardwired smoke alarms, you will need to employ the services of an electrician and therefore the costs will be significantly higher.

Are funds available to help those who can't afford to install interlinked smoke and heat alarms?

Certain households in Scotland may qualify for some assistance from their local authority, although funding appears to be very limited.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had previously been provided with limited funding to help install smoke and heat alarms into owner-occupied homes deemed as being at the "highest risk".

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service may also be able to arrange a home fire safety visit to assist vulnerable homeowners in finding out what fire alarms they require, even if they aren't able to provide funding for the installation.

If you or someone you know is struggling to afford the cost of new interlinked fire alarms, it may be worthwhile contacting the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service or Care and Repair Scotland to find out if help is available.

Is there a shortage of alarms available to buy right now?

Many homeowners had difficulty purchasing smoke alarms back in January and February 2022 as there was a spike in demand close to the date of the introduction of the new legislation.

However, most retailers (including Firelink Direct) have plenty of stock on hand to supply legislation-compliant alarms via express delivery.

Will not having the alarms installed affect my home insurance?

Effects of non-compliance with Scottish fire safety legislation

Different home insurance policies offered by different insurers are subject to various requirements.

Whether insurance providers state specifically that you need to upgrade your alarms or not, it has long been a condition of home insurance policies that the homeowner will comply with the laws and building regulations which apply to their homes.

So it's not a stretch to imagine a situation in which a home insurer takes a dim view about paying out a claim in the case of a home fire if the homeowner has not complied with fire safety legislation (3).

What is the difference between mains wired alarms and radio frequency alarms?

Differences between wired and wireless fire and smoke alarms

Mains wired alarms are usually referring to mains powered alarms, which are alarms that are wired into your home's electricity supply.

Radio interlinked alarms are where the alarms are connected to each other using radio frequency.

To make things slightly confusing, most interlinked fire alarms are connected to each other via radio frequency, regardless of whether the alarms are mains powered or powered by a sealed battery.

Another important thing to understand is that mains-powered alarms are usually fitted with a sealed battery backup.

This is good because if your home ever has a powercut, your fire alarms will continue to operate, powered by battery.

The issue with this is that the battery backup will have an expiry date, which means mains-powered alarms will have to be replaced just the same as battery-operated alarms.

It is for this reason, as well as the cost of a qualified electrician and the potential for re-decoration that generally means sealed battery alarms are a more convenient and cost-effective solution for most homeowners.

It is also worth stating that smoke and heat alarms with replaceable batteries are not compliant with the new law.

Final words on smoke alarms

The law is clear, it is the responsibility of homeowners to ensure that their homes are compliant when purchasing their new fire alarms.

Wireless interlinked smoke and heat alarms are the simplest way to achieve compliance without spending a fortune on electricians, and the simplest way to find out exactly what you need is to use our helpful online survey.

Within 20 seconds you will have a quote for your new smoke alarms, and express delivery is included.

References

  1. The Scottish Government, fire safety for homeowners, retrieved from https://www.mygov.scot/home-fire-safety

  2. The Scottish Government, changes to fire safety laws, retrieved from https://www.gov.scot/news/changes-to-fire-safety-laws/

  3. Insurance Times, New Scottish fire safety legislation could invalidate home insurance policies, retrieved from https://www.insurancetimes.co.uk/news/new-scottish-fire-safety-legislation-could-invalidate-home-insurance-policies/1440025.article

interlinked smoke alarms and a wireless remote

See exactly what alarms you need to make sure your home is fully covered

BUILD YOUR SYSTEM NOW

See exactly what alarms you need to make sure your home is fully covered

BUILD YOUR SYSTEM NOW
Takes less than 1 minute

See exactly what alarms you need to make sure your home is fully covered

BUILD YOUR SYSTEM NOW
Takes less than 1 minute
interlinked smoke alarms and a wireless remote
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