In a move to increase the safety of tenants in rented accommodation, a new law will require landlords to provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
The legislation, which is due to come into force in October 2015, is estimated to help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year. It will require landlords to ensure that a smoke alarm is installed on each storey of a premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. This would bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.
In addition carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in any room which is used as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel-burning appliance. Prior to any new tenancy beginning the landlord will be required to ensure that each alarm is in proper working order.
Testing regularly will remain the tenant’s responsibility.
Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will face sanctions and could face a civic penalty of up to £5,000.
To ensure that smoke alarms are in a good working order and do not have their batteries removed by tenants it is best to install sealed longlife smoke alarms. Safelincs also offers sealed longlife CO alarms, again assuring landlords the safe longterm protection of their tenants.
CFOA, the Chief Fire Officers Association, through their subsidiary Blue Watch and in partnership with Safelincs, have launched a fire safety shop offering information and fire safety products for landlords, tenants and home owners. The site is a one-stop shop to allow residential users to select the products most suitable for their application, safe in the knowledge that the products have been carefully selected and are suitable for them. Each category of buyer has its own selection of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers to choose from.
The website will help increase fire safety awareness and raises funds for CFOA to allow it to promote its fire safety messages in an environment of government cutbacks.
Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director, Safelincs, commented: “I am very pleased Safelincs has been chosen by the CFOA to create and run the Blue Watch Shop website. It is a testament to our reputation and high level of customer satisfaction that such a prestigious organisation has entrusted us to manage its sales operations.”
The site will sell a selection of smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide alarms with Safelincs managing and fulfilling all orders on behalf of the CFOA.
Since 2008 Safelincs has been proud to support the Market Harborough Building Society (MHBS) with its initiative to send smoke alarms to every customer who takes out a mortgage.
MHBS is a mutual, owned by its 50,000 members. As a small building society it prides itself on a personal service so often missing from large financial institutions. Sending a smoke alarms to each mortgage holder demonstrates a customer focus that has helped keep it in business since 1870.
And it doesn’t end there. Every year thereafter a replacement battery is sent to ensure the smoke alarm continues to do its job.
Safelincs handles the entire process invisibly. Each smoke alarm is shipped directly to the customer in MHBS branded packaging with a covering letter. It also sends the replacement batteries.
MHBS sends an encoded database to Safelincs where it is held securely in memory storage off Safelincs own database. This keeps the mortgage holders information confidential and away from all other records.
“We are pleased to be partnered with Safelincs in whom we are assured of a professional service for our customers at all times,” commented Julie Mottram, customer support manager, MHBS.
“We are very happy to be associated with such a worthy initiative,” added Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director, Safelincs. “Over recent years casualties from fires have decreased, largely attributable to the increase in the number of homes that now have smoke alarms installed.”
The clocks go back on Saturday 25th October and the Government’s Fire Kills campaign is once again reminding people to test their smoke alarms at the same time.
As well as running a high profile campaign each time the clocks change, Fire Kills uses social media to promote monthly humorous videos featuring unusual ways for testing smoke alarms. These have included use of a skateboard, a remote controlled helicopter and a human pyramid!
Those people wishing to test their smoke alarms regularly can take advantage of Safelincs free smoke alarm reminder service and set their own pattern for having their memories jogged. We’ll send a reminder email at a frequency set by you.
Smoke alarm ownership increased rapidly from 8% in 1988 to 70% in 1994 in England, and has continued to rise and it’s now over 88%. However, it’s crucial that they are tested regularly and the batteries changed each year (unless the smoke alarm is a ten year alarm with a sealed-in battery).
After ten years a smoke alarm should be replaced. In many cases, alarm owners can use the existing base plate and directly install a replacement smoke or heat alarm without the need for an electrician.
Safelincs this week shipped the first batch of CO and smoke alarms to airbnb customers across Europe, as airbnb started its campaign to provide hotels, B+Bs, villas and other types of holiday lets with alarms to improve the safety of holiday makers. Airbnb, a rapidly growing international holiday provider with holiday stays in over 34000 cities in over 190 countries is driving the safety message for all its holiday partners and Safelincs is proud to be part of this drive.
Safelincs had to overcome a number of country specific approval hurdles to ensure that customers in the various European countries receive suitable smoke and CO alarms. Airbnb is planning to send out 50,000 alarms in Europe in the first year. Safelincs and its European franchises are well placed to deal with complex and high volume orders across Europe.
Presenters and reporters travelling to the World Cup in Brazil have been equipped with smoke alarms, heat alarms and carbon monoxide alarms by Safelincs.
Any organisation that has employees travelling abroad has a duty of care to ensure that their health and safety is protected. The BBC has its people covering football matches in different parts of Brazil and they will be staying in various types of accommodation.
“I’m sure the accommodation the journalists will be staying in will be perfectly safe,” commented Harry Dewick-Eisele, managing director of Safelincs. “However, uptake of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms has not been as great in South America as it has been in the UK, so the BBC is taking very sensible precautions for its employees travelling to the World Cup.”
Safelincs were able to provide the BBC with a comprehensive selection of products at competitive prices, all delivered in timescales that were second to none.
Defined under BS 5839: Pt. 6 a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) is “a house that is occupied by persons who do not form a single household.” These are typically large houses that have been converted into flats or bedsits. Many of our customers ask what type of smoke alarm system is suitable for this type of property. According to the British Standard, the recommendations are as follows:
For one or two storey HMOs where the individual floor area is no more than 200sqm, a Grade D, category LD3 smoke alarm system should be installed. Grade D refers to mains powered smoke and heat alarms with a built-in back up battery power supply, and the alarms can be interconnected either by wire or by radio signal. That means that fire alarm panels are not required. Ei Electronics and Kidde offer both RF and wired mains powered alarm systems as well as a range of accessories that can help you to test, locate and hush alarms easily.
Category LD3 (level of coverage) is the minimum requirement and defines where alarms should be installed. LD3 requires smoke alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of the escape routes from the dwelling, i.e. hallways and landings. If justified during a fire risk assessment, the level of cover may be increased to LD2 which requires smoke or heat alarms to be installed in specified high fire risk rooms and areas. Dependent on the specifier, this can include living rooms, kitchens and possibly bedrooms.
For Grade D system it is becoming more and more acceptable (especially if retrofitted) to install radio-interlinked smoke and heat alarms with 10 year sealed batteries rather than mains powered smoke and heat alarms. This saves the cost for the electrician and systems like this can be installed very quickly. We still recommend that you ask for confirmation by building control or the relevant council department before installing these systems.
For HMOs of 3 storeys or higher, there are two options available. The first is to have Grade A fire alarm system installed throughout the building. Grade A consists of a conventional or addressable fire alarm panel, and then fire alarm detectors, call points, sounders and beacons are specified according to the layout and requirements of the property. The second option is to have a mixed system. This would comprise of Grade D, category LD3 in the individual dwellings (see above) and a separate Grade A system in the communal areas. Again, the category of cover in the individual dwellings can be upped to LD2 if needed. Both of these options have pros and cons depending on the requirements and the owner’s access to each of the dwellings. A mixed system appears to have become the preference, as it is likely to reduce the impact of nuisance alarms from individual flats on other occupants.
For additional guidance, please visit our Smoke Alarm Help and Information, BS 5839-6 and BS 5839-1 summary pages.
Fire services across the country praised citizens who were asked to take extra precautions to stay safe during firefighter strikes that took place over the Christmas and New Year period.
The precautions outlined are those which everybody would do well to heed – strike or no strike! These included not overloading plug sockets (particularly pertinent during the festive period when extra lights are in use), ensuring smoke alarms are fitted on every level of a property and not cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol. Also making sure everything is switched off before going to bed and sharing an escape plan with everyone who is living or staying at the property.
There was also plenty of advice for businesses which again is relevant at all times of the year. These included:
- Being safety conscious when carrying out checks at closing time
- Making sure alarm systems are set before leaving
- Keeping all fire escapes and entrances clear
- Switching off electrical appliances at the plug when not in use
- Not storing flammable goods under stairs or in enclosed spaces
- Keeping smoking areas free of waste and emptying ash trays
- Keeping all areas tidy and free from clutter
- Ensuring all staff know what to do in the event of a fire
- Checking the fire safety risk assessment to ensure everything is covered
The ongoing industrial action is being taken in opposition to the government’s decision to raise firefighters’ retirement age from 55 to 60 and to increase their individual pension contributions.
Graham Stagg, Chief Fire Officer at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Although our crewing levels were significantly impacted, we were able to use our own operationally trained managers and on-call firefighters to crew fire engines during the strike period.
“Whilst our day-to-day services were severely disrupted by the strike, the commitment of our on-call, support and operational managers ensured we were able to fulfil our legal duty to provide a fire and rescue service.”
Fire Kills, part of the Department for Communities and Local Government, will again be running its campaign to encourage us to test their smoke alarms at the same time as we put our clocks back at the end of October.
Smoke alarm maintenance has long been the primary message of the Fire Kills national advertising. With smoke alarm ownership levels at around 88%, it is evident from the statistics and real-life cases that not all of these work. The latest evidence shows that you are four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if you do not have a working smoke alarm.
Between April 2011 and March 2012 there were 380 fires deaths, many of which might have been avoided had smoke alarms been fitted. Indeed, there have been incidents where firemen at the scene of a tragedy have found that smoke alarms were present and the batteries had been allowed to go flat or, in some instances, removed to power other appliances.
The campaign will include advertisements on commercial radio stations. In the past it was felt that the campaigns lacked a catchy tag line which it now has – ‘Tick, Tock, Test!’
There will also be advertisements in the national press and and a social media campaign with videos on You Tube.
Fire Kills, the Government’s safety campaign, will again be encouraging people to test their smoke alarms when the clocks go forward at the end of March.
Safelincs is a partner of Fire Kills and has worked for a number of years supporting the message that encourages householders to regularly check their smoke alarms. In this age of austerity Fire Kills is no longer able to run long and expensive television campaigns so it now concentrates its efforts twice a year when the clocks change.
Twice a year is the bare minimum for testing alarms; manufacturers often recommend once a week. Several years ago Safelincs established a free smoke alarm reminder service whereby you can receive an email or text to remind you to test your alarms.
The frequency of these reminders can be set to suit what is best for you. You will also be reminded when it’s time to change the battery and when the alarm has reached the end of its reliable life and should be replaced.
Fire Kills will be promoting the message through national newspapers and through a local radio campaign around the time of the clock change. There is also a new smoke alarm video which can be viewed here.
Last year there were 30,709 accidental fires in the home across the country, and fifteen children’s lives were lost. With smoke alarm ownership levels at around 86%, it is evident, from the statistics and real-life cases, that not all of these work. In fact there have been tragic circumstances where fatalities have occurred when a smoke alarm was present but the battery had been removed to power something else.
Latest statistics show that you are four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if you do not have a working smoke alarm.
We therefore would encourage you to test your smoke alarms when you change the clocks!