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SELECT cautiously welcomes Scottish delay to new smoke alarm rules

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SELECT has cautiously welcomed a proposed one-year delay to new rules on domestic smoke alarms in Scotland – but says Holyrood needs to roll out a major awareness campaign on the rules in the meantime.

The campaigning body for the electrotechnical sector says it understands why First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to postpone the requirement that all homes should have linked heat and smoke alarms, as well carbon monoxide alarms where appropriate, until February 2022.

But it added that the issue remains a serious safety consideration and said that it was imperative that householders were made aware of the importance of professional installation so that they could plan ahead and get the precautions in place as soon as possible.

Alan Wilson, managing director at SELECT, said, “We recognise that in the current climate, some homeowners may be reluctant to have tradespeople in their home to carry out any work that needs to be done.

“However, we also know that there was still a degree of uncertainty and misinformation among some homeowners, and more could have been done to raise awareness of the facts on a national level. Hopefully with the additional time we now have, that can be rectified with a clear government information campaign.”

Wilson said that SELECT issued comprehensive guidance about the new regulations in November 2019, accompanied by a major media campaign and alerts to all its 1,250 member companies – information that’s still freely available on the SELECT website.

He added, “When this new legislation was initially proposed, we went to great lengths to disseminate the required information as widely as possible to the trade, our member companies and the general public.

“The information brochure that we produced on the issue was so popular that it had to be reprinted twice in response to demand and, before the recent announcement, we had been planning a reminder campaign to keep all interested parties up to speed.

“While such measures have contributed to the widespread discussion about these vital safety features, and helped the electrical industry stand ready, we accept that it is prudent to give homeowners more time to fully understand what needs to be done.”

The decision by the Scottish Government to enforce the installation of the linked alarms came in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London in June 2017, in which 72 people died. The new standard will cover all homes and it is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure the work is carried out.

SELECT, which is in the final stages of a campaign in the Scottish Parliament for the professional recognition of electricians, also warned of the dangers of the new alarm installations being carried out by unqualified and unskilled people.

Dave Forrester, director of technical services at SELECT, commented, “Safety is the paramount issue here and after Grenfell, fire safety is more vital than ever.

“A major survey carried out in 2018 showed that faulty electrical installations accounted for 7.1% of all fires in Scotland, and the damage caused to property by these fires cost in the region of £9.6million.

“It is therefore of primary importance that electrical installation work is put in the hands of people who have successfully undertaken the rigorous training necessary to deal safely and competently with today’s complex electrotechnical infrastructure.

“With positive input from the Scottish Government before the next deadline in February 2022, the sector is confident about helping to implement these important and potentially life-saving changes and significantly improving the safety of Scotland’s built estate.”

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