Annex J - Fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
J.1 A requirement for fire alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors was previously part of the Repairing Standard. This is now part of Tolerable Standard and is therefore required in all tenures, including private rented housing; see annex A of this guidance. This annex will summarise the duty as it applies to private rented properties.
J.2 In order to comply with the Repairing Standard there should be at least:
- 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;
- All smoke and heat alarms to be ceiling mounted, unless paragraph J.7 applies; and
- All smoke and heat alarms to be interlinked.
J.3 Mains-operated alarms (with battery backup) are permitted, and tamper proof long-life lithium battery alarms (i.e. not PP3 type or user-replaceable) are also permitted. Mains-wired units may have a back-up supply in case of a power cut, and wireless interlinking may use a separate power supply for the radio signal. Alarms will not fail the Repairing Standard if these additional supplies use replaceable batteries.
J.4 Fire alarms should only be used within the manufacturers recommended lifespan (usually no more than 10 years old). The date of expiry should normally be recorded on the alarm and the alarm replaced before this expiry date.
J.5 Alarms can be interlinked via wires (hardwired) or wirelessly (by radio communication). Where adding to an existing hardwired system, care should be taken to ensure that all alarms are interlinked, with all alarms sounding when any one device is activated. All the alarms required to provide a compliant system must be interlinked. If there are additional alarms that are not required by the Tolerable Standard, for example, in bedrooms, the system does not fail the Repairing Standard if these additional alarms are not interlinked to the system.
J.6 Open plan combined rooms, such as kitchen/living rooms will only require one alarm, provided that it can be located no more than 7.5 metres from any point in the room. The type of alarm used should be appropriate for the room.
J.7 A "circulation space" is a room that you have to go through to get to another part of the house. This does not require alarms in small spaces such as a vestibule, front porch or half-landing with no or minimal space for furniture, storage or appliances. In order to provide effective warning, there should be an alarm on a landing or hall located no more than 3 metres from the door of the main bedroom.
J.8 Wall mounted alarms should only be installed where this is in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended installation. Alarms on walls should be located within 30 cm of the ceiling at its highest end. Wall mounting may be appropriate where ceilings are sloped or uneven, or in order to avoid disturbing asbestos.
J.9 If there is a requirement for the house to meet a more stringent standard of provision for detecting and giving warning of fire (for example, in a house in multiple occupation (HMO) requiring to be licensed, or if work requires a building warrant), then the Repairing Standard criterion is only to be regarded as met if that requirement has also been met.
J.10 The fitting of a mains-operated smoke/heat alarm system may require a building warrant and landlords should consult the Building Standards department of the local authority.
J.11 The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) offer free home (i.e. domestic premises) fire safety visits (HFSVs) comprising an assessment of fire risk within the home at that time and the provision of advice on preventing fires, avoiding fire spread and formulating an escape plan in event of fire. To arrange a free Home Fire Safety Visit: call 0800 0731 999, text "FIRE" to 80800 from your mobile phone, or visit Home - Fire Scotland.
J.12 Where telecare is in use, effective warning interlinked smoke and heat alarms should be installed which are compatible with any telecare alarms, and connected to the telecare system, ensuring a single system approach.
J.13 Under the Equality Act, landlords have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to properties for disabled people. Therefore, they require to provide deaf alerts compatible with the interlinked systems.
Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors
J.14 In order to alert occupants to the presence of levels of CO gas which may be harmful to people, CO detectors to be fitted in all rooms where there is a fixed combustion appliance or a flue.
J.15 CO detectors must be mains wired or powered by a battery designed to operate for the working life of the detector.
J.16 Combustion appliance means a fixed appliance, such as boilers, fires (including open fires), heaters and stoves, designed and installed to operate on a carbon based fuel, such as oil, solid fuel or natural gas. A carbon monoxide detector is not required for a gas cooker or hob.
J.17 All CO detectors should be either:
- Ceiling mounted and at least 300 mm from any wall (unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer); or
- Wall mounted and positioned at least 150 mm below the ceiling and higher than any door or window in the room (unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer).
J.18 CO detectors should only be used within the manufacturers' recommended lifespan (usually no more than 10 years old). The date of expiry should normally be recorded on the alarm and the alarm replaced before this expiry date. The detector should incorporate an appropriate warning device to alert the users when its working life is due to expire.
J.19 The standard applies to rooms, meaning parts of the house that are used for living accommodation. A house does not fail the Tolerable Standard if there is no carbon monoxide detector in a part of the house that is not used as, or has not been converted for use as, living accommodation, such as cellars, attics and garages. However, if a new carbon fuelled appliance is installed, or an existing appliance replaced, Scottish building regulations must be complied with and may require the installation of a carbon monoxide detector.
J.20 Carbon monoxide detectors in the space containing the combustion appliance should be sited between 1m and 3m from the appliance. A carbon monoxide detector should not be placed in a cupboard or other small enclosed space. If this is where the appliance is, the detector should be located at the appropriate distance from that space.
J.21 The Repairing Standard does not require carbon monoxide detectors to be interlinked, or to be interlinked with fire alarms.
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