A best practice approach to fire safety


Simon Jones from life safety manufacturer Kidde Safety Europe looks at upcoming changes to Scottish fire safety regulations, and how these will impact the requirements for domestic dwellings across the UK

According to recent research, 27% of UK renters revealed that they do not have a smoke alarm on each storey of their home – and private renters (32%) are less likely to have an alarm than social renters (20%). In addition, the research showed that 51% of tenants surveyed did not have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm fitted in their property.

To ensure occupant safety, it is paramount that landlords and property owners have an in-depth understanding of the safety alarm requirements for their dwelling(s) and that the correct models are installed in the appropriate locations. To improve safety in domestic dwellings, Scotland is leading the way in fire safety in the UK by updating its fire safety legislation. Although only applicable in Scotland, we see this as a best practice approach to occupant safety and recommend that landlords and property owners UK-wide adopt these changes.

What does the new legislation in Scotland cover?

The updates to the Scottish legislation were introduced in response to the Grenfell fire tragedy in London in 2017 and look to ensure that building occupants are as safe as possible. Following the fire, an interim report reviewed the Building Regulations and Fire Safety in the UK which identified the failings and flaws in current fire safety legislation.

As such, and leading by example, Scotland is changing its fire and smoke alarm legislation under the Housing (Scotland) Act so that by February 2022, all homes in Scotland must have interlinked alarms installed. This aims to provide protection for privately owned and rented homes as well as social housing premises. The responsibility for ensuring this lies with the property owner, which is why it is so important for landlords, local authorities and housing associations to familiarise themselves with the requirements.

The updates to the Scottish legislation, which landlords must comply with by February 2022, stipulate that alarms should be installed as follows:

  • One smoke alarm in the living room (or the room that is used most regularly by the occupant)
  • One smoke alarm in every hallway or landing
  • One heat alarm in the kitchen
  • Each smoke and heat alarm should be ceiling mounted and interlinked
  • Carbon monoxide alarms with sealed-in batteries that last the full product lifetime must also be installed in rooms where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance or flue.

All the above contribute to the minimum requirements under the new Scottish regulations and are the equivalent to LD2 under BS 5839 Part 6. However, additional alarms may be required following individual risk assessment.

Under the new Housing (Scotland) Act, it is also vital that smoke and heat alarms be interlinked. This means that when one alarm sounds, it will trigger all other alarms. This ensures that occupants will hear the alarm wherever they are in the building – even if they are far from the source of the heat, smoke or fire, they will be alerted quickly and have time to safely evacuate. Interlinking can be achieved either by mains power connection or by radio frequency enabled alarm units.

Additional considerations

When selecting which alarms to install, we always suggest looking at reputable manufacturers and trusted brands – and, if there is any doubt, taking the time to look at online reviews of the company. This will help to ensure that the models chosen are manufactured in line with relevant standards and will perform as intended in an emergency. It is also vital to check that mains powered smoke alarms are compliant with EN 14604 and mains powered heat alarms with
BS 5446-2.

In addition, for warning occupants of the presence of carbon monoxide, a CO alarm should be installed in any room with a new or replacement solid-fuel or combustion appliance such as a wood or gas burner or open fire. CO alarms should also comply with EN 50291 Part 1 for domestic premises and be tested and approved by an accredited third-party agency. Furthermore, with the proposed updates to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015 in England now approved by Parliament, landlords in the social and private rented sectors are required to fit CO alarms in any room that has a fixed combustion appliance, such as gas boilers, water heaters or fires.

The new regulations also call for smoke alarms to be installed in all social housing premises.

To enhance occupant safety, Kidde recommends that property owners UK-wide implement BS 5839 Part 6, LD2 as best practice (as has been initiated by Scotland). This includes making sure that heat and smoke alarms are installed in the correct locations in line with LD2 standards and interlinking each unit. In addition, building owners should ensure that CO alarms are correctly fitted in line with the latest guidance.

With over 100 years of experience in the field of fire safety, Kidde offers a range of high-quality, reliable and compliant products. For additional information, Kidde’s technical specialists are on hand to assist with any question.

Simon Jones is marketing manager at Kidde Safety Europe