Charity warns Scots will be hit hard by cost of meeting new fire and smoke alarm rules
A leading charity has warned that Scots need cash help to meet new rules forcing every home in to install state-of-the-art fire and smoke alarms and heat detectors.
After the fire at Grenfell Tower in London in 2017, a Ministerial working group was set up to review Scotland's building and fire safety framework. The Government said the changes are being brought in to make sure that everyone in Scotland has the same level of protection whether they own or rent their home.
Under changes to the law confirmed by Scottish Government, every household will have to have 'interlinked' system of ceiling mounted alarms in living rooms, landings, hallways and heat alarms in every kitchen by February 2021. The system will mean that if a fire goes off in one room the nearest alarm will set off the others.
All homeowners or landlords will have to fund the costs of the alarms estimated by the Scottish Government to be at least £220 - but this only applies to alarms that can be fitted without the help of an electrician.
The changes mean the standard that already applies to private rented property and new builds is being extended to all homes. On their website the Government says that even the alarms that can be fitted without the help of an electrician will cost more than £200. And the new law was only just announced this week, giving people just a few months, over the Christmas and New Year period, to comply.
Where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance – such as boilers, fires and heaters or a flue – a carbon monoxide detector is also required
Full details of the strict new regulations, uploaded to the Scottish Government website on Monday (october 12) states: "Prices will vary depending on the devices you choose to install, but it is estimated that to fit the required alarms in an average three bedroom house - requiring three smoke alarms, one heat alarm and one carbon monoxide detector - will cost around £220. This is based on using the type of alarms you can install yourself."
"Mains-wired alarms will, however, require to be installed by an electrician which will be an additional cost to consider, and you may need a building warrant if you live in flat."
Citizens Advice Scotland said that while the new law would bring improved safety, families on low incomes would struggle to fork out the cash required to meet the new standards.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue service has welcomed the measure, saying it will be able to fit the new standard alarms in homes of those deemed 'high risk' including elderly, and other categorised as ‘vulnerable’..
But their home fire safety visits don not automatically cover people hard up for cash and who cannot afford the cost of purchasing and installing equipment demanded by the new regulations..
And with the furlough scheme expected to end in October, CAS said they expect to see rising unemployment and personal debt.
Citizens Advice Scotland Markets spokesperson Kate Morrison said: “These regulations, and improving fire safety, are unquestionably important following the tragedy of Grenfell.
"We are concerned that without adequate financial support some people may not be able to comply with these regulations and it would be good to see support made available for people who need it, otherwise we run the risk of those on lower or insecure incomes falling foul of these regulations.”
Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Alasdair Perry, the Head of Prevention and Protection for the SFRS, said: “The SFRS carries out thousands of Home Fire Safety Visits across Scotland each year to support residents to stay safe and we can install battery operated stand-alone smoke detectors as part of that process if required. We are particularly keen to support the most vulnerable wherever possible.”
“The Scottish Government has provided financial support to our Home Fire Safety Visit programme which will allow us to fit to the new standard in the homes of those identified through our robust criteria as being at higher risk."
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The tragic events at Grenfell Tower emphasised how important building and fire safety is, which is why, following consultation, we announced in 2018 that the standards that already existed in the private rented sector applied to all homes. Now everyone will benefit from the same level of protection, whether you own your home, or rent from a social or private landlord.
“Fitting the right alarms will protect homes and families, but we are clear that we do not endorse specific products and we will investigate this matter further.”