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Lanarkshire residents urged to act in time for new smoke alarm law deadline

Lanarkshire residents are being urged to take action now to comply with forthcoming regulations on installing fire alarms, ahead of the new law being introduced in February.

Every home will need to have interlinked and ceiling-mounted smoke alarms, with one in the most frequently used room, another in every circulation space on each storey and a heat alarm in each kitchen.

Properties with a boiler, fire, flue or other carbon-fuelled appliance will also need a carbon monoxide detector, although this does not need to be linked to the fire alarms.

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The new legislation was introduced following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 and was originally due to have taken effect six months ago, but was delayed by the Scottish Government due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and a lack of public awareness of the plans.

Many householders only began learning of the requirement when leaflets arrived on Lanarkshire doorsteps last October, little over three months before the original deadline; with then-MSP Alex Neil being among those who called for the extension to help residents.

Neil Gray, his successor in the Airdrie & Shotts constituency, told Lanarkshire Live: “I want to ensure that all homeowners have ample time to get the new interlinked alarms installed before the move becomes law in February.

“House fires can have a devastating effect on families, and anything that can be done to limit this is vital. These alarms significantly reduce casualties by alerting everybody in a property to a fire.

“I would urge folk to get it done as soon as possible and to check with their insurance provider about how the law change may affect their policy.”

Private rented and new-build homes must already meet the smoke alarm standards, but they will be extended from February to apply to every home in Scotland and will affect 1.5 million owner-occupied properties.

The cost for an average three-bedroom house is estimated at £220 for alarms installed by the householder; while mains-operated alarms will have a further cost as they must be installed by a qualified electrician.

Funding of £15 million is being made available to social landlords by the Scottish Government, while a further £500,000 will go to help eligible older and disabled homeowners in partnership with Care and Repair Scotland.

Age Scotland, which successfully campaigned last year for the delay, welcomed the newly-launched awareness campaign but warned they still have “a number of concerns” on issues including trustworthy support on installation and risks including scams and rogue traders.

Chief executive Brian Sloan said: “There has been an underestimation of the scale of financial help that will be required by older households – there are 150,000 pensioners in Scotland living in poverty and hundreds of thousands more on low and fixed incomes.

“Many older homeowners have voiced concerns over the affordability and cost of these devices, as well as where to access support to install them; the financial aspect will be a particular worry for those on low incomes who fall just outside eligibility criteria for support.

“There is also still uncertainty about how home insurance policies may be impacted, as well as how to prevent scammers and rogue traders from taking advantage of those worried about meeting the timescales for installation.”

He added: “Good home fire safety standards are vital, and we appreciate the Scottish Government making support and guidance available to assist homeowners in complying with the new legislation.

“Every household must have the time and resources to make safe and affordable decisions to meet requirements ahead of the deadline, and we hope this initiative will lead to increased awareness among homeowners.”

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