Fairer Scotland

Fire and smoke alarm standards

February 12, 2019 by 1 Comment | Category Housing

Back in June 2017, following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, we took immediate steps to establish a Ministerial Working Group (MWG) on Building and Fire Safety. The Group was established to offer public reassurance and ensure all lessons learned from Grenfell were applied here in Scotland, and to help ensure people are safe in Scotland’s buildings.

The Scottish Government works closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and we are committed to achieving improved fire safety. Working together we have seen the number of fires in Scotland continue to fall. But, as I’m sure everyone will agree, one death from fire in Scotland’s homes is one too many.

One of the first recommendations from the MWG was to bring forward our planned consultation on fire and smoke alarms.  The consultation sought views on potential changes to standards required for fire and smoke alarms in domestic properties in Scotland.  As it currently stands, there are different standards for fire and smoke alarms depending on the tenure of the home and when it was built.

In consultation responses, there was very strong support for a common new minimum standard across all kinds of housing. There was also strong support that the new standard should be based on the standard currently applying to private rented property.

Taking account of these views, the existing high standard required in the private rented sector and of new build properties has been extended to all homes.

So, what does this mean for your home? You will need:

  • One smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes (normally the living room/lounge)
  • One smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings
  • One heat alarm installed in every kitchen

Alarms may be hard-wired, or tamper proof long-life lithium battery powered, and should also be interlinked – if an alarm sounds in the kitchen, it might not be heard elsewhere in the house.

Carbon monoxide alarms will also be required where there is a fixed combustion appliance such as boilers, fires (including open fires), heaters and stoves designed and installed to operate on a carbon based fuel (oil, solid fuel or gas).

We estimate the cost to meet the new standard for an average home could be around £200, however this will vary according to what you currently have in place and the alarms you choose to install.

Scotland already has rigorous standards for smoke and fire alarms.  But we want and expect everyone to benefit from the same level of protection.  The standard comes into force in February 2021, however we hope that most people, recognising the safety benefits, will take action sooner.

Over the last twenty years the number of fires has nearly halved, and the number of fire fatalities has fallen by over 60%.   Fire alarms are one of the most important investments you can make to protect life and property.  I believe this new standard is a significant step towards strengthening fire safety for everyone in Scotland.

Assistant Chief Officer David McGown, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) director of prevention and protection, said:

The presence of working smoke and heat detectors has been proven to significantly reduce casualties and fatalities occurring as a result of fires within the home.  Scottish Fire and Rescue Service therefore welcomes any change that improves safety in the home for all residents, regardless of tenure.”

Further information on the requirements of the new standard, and how to meet it, is available in the Tolerable Standard Guidance.

This is the first legislation to be introduced on the MWG’s recommendation, with further measures planned including action on the installation of sprinklers, and escape stairs in new high rise residential buildings.

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  • James Taylor says:

    How is this being transmitted to the general public and home-owners? I found the information by accident and do not doubt that others will be totally unaware of its existance or implication. There are a large number of companies who produce and sell these alarms. Have they been consulted to ensure that they include information that their products do not or may not be suitable for use in Scotland? Why is it assumed that “tamper proof” alarms will be totally replaced after 5 or 10 years but replaceable batteries will not be accepted? thus increasing the costs involved not only initially but ongoing.

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