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Smoke alarm law changes concern

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
Smoke alarm law changes concern

ELDERLY and vulnerable people in Dumfries and Galloway could be breaking the law next year because they cannot afford new smoke alarms, it is feared.

Legislation changes coming into force in February 2022 demands that every home in Scotland must have interlinked fire alarms, which reduce the risk of injury or death.

Every home will be required to have one smoke alarm in the most frequently used room, one in every circulation space on each storey, and a heat alarm in each kitchen.

A carbon monoxide detector must also be installed where there is a boiler, fire or flue, although this does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.

The average installation bill for homeowners/landlords is £220 – at a time when pensioners are also facing rising gas prices.

The change in law was due to be implemented this year, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

The issue was raised at last week’s Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee last week, which was attended by the area’s station commander Lucy Donaldson.

Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall asked her: “I’m just wondering what the fire service is doing proactively to try and inform the people about the change in February 2022?

“What will the fire service do to roll that message out to ensure people – especially the vulnerable – will manage to change their smoke alarms?”

Commander Donaldson replied: “It’s a very difficult one because many people think that the fire service has driven this, and that the fire service is responsible for this.

“Obviously there is a cost to it, and I have come across it myself to some distress, particularly elderly people wondering how they are going to pay for it.

“To that end, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service produced a leaflet 18 months to two years ago, which has been updated with the change in dates.

“That leaflet is being handed out by fire service personnel who attend for home fire safety visits or if they attend a dwelling for any particular incident.

“We’ve been really trying to hit that message on social media quite strongly over the past two or three months because we knew it was coming again – and that everybody is now starting to look towards February.”

The cost of installing the interlinked fire alarms lies with the homeowner or landlord, and the average bill is around £220 according to the Scottish Government.

However, these are the costs for the type of alarms that can be installed by the homeowner without the need for an electrician, which are tamper proof long-life lithium battery alarms.

The government is providing £500,000 to help eligible elderly and disabled homeowners with installation in partnership with Care and Repair Scotland.

Annan and Eskdale, Front

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