Age Scotland has welcomed a new Scottish Government initiative to increase public awareness around installing interlinked fire and smoke alarms, but says there is still a long way to go to ensure all households affected by the significant change are able to meet requirements.
The new legislation was introduced in the wake of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire to establish new safety standards that require interlinked fire and smoke alarms throughout the house and will affect around 1.5 million owner-occupied homes in Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s media campaign, launched today (19 August) aims to make homeowners aware of the changes to legislation, as well as their responsibilities and what assistance may be available.
The charity hopes it will also help address ongoing concerns, such as the ability for people on low incomes to afford the measures, where to access trustworthy support on installation, and the short-term risk of scams and rogue traders.
Age Scotland previously called on the Scottish Government to delay the deadline for homeowners to meet the requirement due to a severe lack of public awareness and to make up for the year lost due to COVID-19, ultimately resulting in an extension to 1 February 2022.
Age Scotland’s Chief Executive, Brian Sloan, said:
“Good home fire safety standards are vital, and we appreciate the Scottish Government making this support and guidance available to assist homeowners in complying with the new legislation.
“The looming deadline for the installation of interlinked fire alarms caught the majority of homeowners by surprise last year and we’re very glad an extension was granted, albeit only for a year.
“However, there are still a number of concerns we hope to see addressed ahead of the new deadline.
“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, and our research has consistently shown high levels of anxiety from older people when it comes to affording bills.
“For example, two thirds of respondents in our Big Survey said that their energy bills had increased due to lockdown, with 13% struggling to pay and 38% taking measures to use less energy.
“It’s welcome news that Care and Repair Scotland will receive funding to administer a fire alarms assistance package for lower income older and disabled homeowners. We’re glad to see the Scottish Government pursuing this valuable avenue of providing affordable installations of fire alarms.
“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, as the average cost of the various interlinked alarms has been estimated at around £220, but this is not taking into account the added costs of installation and set up for those not able or comfortable doing this themselves.
“There is also still uncertainty about how home insurance policies, or home reports if buying and selling, may be impacted going forward, as well as how to prevent scammers and rogue traders from taking advantage of those worried about meeting the timescales for installation.
“We hope this initiative will lead to increased public awareness among homeowners about how to access support in meeting these important safety standards. Every household affected must have the time and resources to make safe and affordable decisions to meet requirements ahead of the deadline, and we’re grateful to see support available in both digital and non-digital formats to ensure the message reaches the half million over-60s in Scotland who do not use the internet.”
- More information on new smoke and heat alarm regulations is available here: https://www.mygov.scot/home-fire-safety
- Details of the Scottish Government awareness campaign can be found at https://www.gov.scot/news/changes-to-fire-safety-laws/