Just over half of the Scots ready for new smoke alarm law – STV measurement

Just over half of Scots have interconnected smoke alarms installed on the threshold of a new law requiring them in every home, an STV News poll has found.

Scotland will be the first place in the UK on Tuesday where residents will be legally required to have smoke alarms connected to each other throughout the property.

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, legislation was introduced by the Scottish Government in 2019 and then delayed until 2022.

But more than a third of Scots said they do not yet have the necessary smoke and heat detectors installed in their homes. One tenth of the respondents were not sure.

The weighted poll of 1102 Scots, conducted by ScotPulse on behalf of STV News, found that the vast majority were aware of the new legislation.

However, more than half believe that there was not enough information available about the changes.

What did the smoke alarm survey find?

  • 68% of the respondents have a working smoke alarm in their living rooms
  • 54% have a working heat alarm in their kitchen
  • 92% known to the new legislation
  • 57% believes that there was not enough information about the changes
  • 46% said there was not enough time to change their detector system before the deadline
  • 54% of the respondents already have interconnected smoke and heat detectors, 35% not, and 11% are uncertain
  • Those in rental housing were more likely to have the new detectors (77%) compared to homeowners (46%)

What does a fire safety expert think?

It is up to the property owners to pay and install the alarms.free via iStock
It is up to the property owners to pay and install the alarms.

Stephen Mackenzie, an independent fire expert, said the “phenomenal” change in the law would save lives.

“It’s the number one tool to sound the alarm, alert residents to the fire and protect lives, and I think it’s a great move,” he told STV News.

“This is to buy lifelong and buy time for the occupants to contain the fire, to remove themselves from danger and to evacuate the building where necessary.

“We are losing the largest number of people in their own homes, so it is appropriate to target it and encourage people to install these detectors during an enforcement action, but it is interesting to note that it is not a criminal offense if you fail to do so. to do it.

“The arguments against just do not stand up to the arguments for. Let’s save as many people as possible from the killer, it’s the smoke, it’s not the fire – it’s the smoke.

“Let’s give them an early warning to call the fire department’s assistance if they are able to tackle a small fire or close the door and take life food or ideally evacuate the building.”

Calls to postpone the entry into force of the law

More than a third of Scots said they do not have the necessary smoke and heat detectors installed in their homes.Stephen Barnes via iStock
More than a third of Scots said they do not have the necessary smoke and heat detectors installed in their homes.

Opposition MSPs have called for the new legislation to be delayed due to concerns that almost half of Scots do not have the necessary smoke alarms.

Scottish Conservative shadow housing secretary Miles Briggs said the lack of inclusion among homeowners was due to “gloomy future planning” by the Scottish Government.

“This study paints a judgmental picture of the SNP’s lack of preparation for the new interconnected fire alarm legislation,” he said.

“The new law is due to come into force, and yet almost half of Scots still do not have the necessary fire alarms in their homes.

The SNP is putting thousands of Scottish homeowners out of the law because of their own bleak forward-looking planning and inadequate public information campaign on the claims.

“The SNP has already postponed this scheme once as a result of their bullying, but the truth is that we are no further ahead than this time last year. The SNP must now immediately postpone this law again, to give the Scots time to meet the new requirements.”

Scottish Labor’s Mark Griffin MSP said people were struggling to afford the necessary alarms.

It is estimated that the cost of an average three bedroom house will be around £ 220 to be paid by homeowners or private landlords.

This is for alarms that do not require an electrician. Cheaper models that can be connected to the mains must be installed by a professional.

“This should save lives, we support it, but only if it is done properly,” Griffin said.

“So the government should have done a lot more work advising people what they should do – who the recommended suppliers should be and supporting the low-income families who can’t afford it.

“I think the government has supported about 2,000 households, but that’s just not enough. People are really, really struggling to pay hundreds of pounds, it’s just not good enough.

“It’s not like we’re that much further ahead through the pandemic. People still have their minds somewhere else.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service received 1 million. GBP in state aid to install the alarms for those considered to be at high risk of fire. An additional £ 500,000 was set aside to help disabled and elderly people.

What does the Scottish Government say?

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona RobisonScottish Government via Crown copyright
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Shona Robison told STV News that she believes people are aware of the new law and that it would be inappropriate to postpone a policy that could save lives.

“Surveys that have been conducted show a high level of awareness among homeowners about their responsibility to ensure that they keep them and their family safe by installing these interconnected alarms that we know can save lives,” she said.

In response to concerns that scammers are exploiting those who want to ensure their homes comply with the regulation, Robison said the government wants to ensure people are careful about getting reputable contractors into their homes.

“That’s why we’ve been working with Care and Repair and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service so they can give special advice to anyone who may be vulnerable or anyone who’s worried about who should get into the installation. . [the alarms],” she said.

Robison said she is aware of global shortcomings affecting the availability of smoke alarms, but she said the government had been assured that there were now better UK supplies.

As for concerns about people canceling their insurance by not getting the necessary alarms installed in a timely manner, Robison tried to reassure homeowners.

“The Association of British Insurance Companies has been fully aware that what insurance companies are looking for are working alarms,” ​​she said.

“The important thing here is that these interconnected alarms, if there is a fire in any part of your house, you will hear it no matter where you are and it is important it can save lives.

“We do not believe it would be appropriate to postpone anything that could actually save lives. But what we have said is that if people need a reasonable period of time on February 1 to get these installed or due to supply problems or finding people to come in, then of course they will not be criminalized.

“This is really just trying to impress people, but this could be a life-saving device worth prioritizing and getting installed as quickly as you can.”

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