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How fire safety rules are changing in Scotland and should the UK follow?

Andy Greenhorn

Andy Greenhorn

Specification Manager at FireAngel
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Andy Greenhorn, FireAngel’s Specification Manager for Scotland and Ireland, discusses the fire safety changes coming to Scotland and why the rest of the UK should adopt them. 

The extended February 2022 deadline for the Scottish Government’s new Tolerable Standard is fast approaching. This is the new minimum requirement of fire, smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) protection that must be installed throughout Scottish homes. 

Devised in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the new fire safety laws outlined within the Housing (Scotland) Act aim to significantly reduce deaths and casualties in household fires, by providing individuals living within all types of properties with increased levels of protection and the earliest possible warning of a fire.

Whilst private rented and new-build homes must already meet these standards, from February 2022, the legislation will apply to every home in Scotland, regardless of age or tenure. The updated regulations require all properties to have an interlinked fire and smoke alarm system, which must be supported by adequate CO protection if there is a flue-burning appliance or flue present within the property. The regulations do not just apply to the installation of new alarms, as any existing alarms must also be reviewed under the new guidance to ensure they meet the revised criteria.

To ensure compliance, each property must have one smoke alarm installed in the room most frequently used for general living purposes, such as the living room. An additional smoke alarm must also be fitted in every circulation space on each storey, including hallways and landings, whilst a heat alarm should be installed in each kitchen. All smoke and heat alarms should be ceiling mounted and interlinked, whilst a CO alarm must also be installed in every room where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance, such as a boiler, fire or stove.

Under the new regulations, both mains-powered or 10-year sealed long-life battery-powered alarms are suitable, as long as they facilitate either hardwired or wireless interlinking. The mains-powered alarms must comply with a Grade D1 Specification, while the battery-powered alarms must meet the requirements of a Grade F1 Specification.

Intelligent interlinking

By installing mains-powered and battery-powered smoke, heat and CO alarms that feature Smart RF technology throughout key locations of a domestic property, including lounges, bedrooms, kitchens and circulation areas, professionals can form a hybrid network that achieves the earliest possible warning of a fire, as by meshing multiple devices together, when one alarm sounds, they all sound.

This achieves the fastest possible alert of a potential fire or CO event, as every device on the network will mimic the chirp of the smoke or CO alarm, depending on the danger that has been identified. 

This ability to mesh battery and mains-powered devices together not only complies with the key requirement of the Updated Tolerable Standard, but is particularly useful for projects where hardwiring isn’t feasible, as the network can be quickly extended wirelessly, whilst also offering the opportunity for additional safety products to be added to the system at a later date to meet any change in an individual’s requirements or level of risk.

The flexible nature of hybrid networks also supports the upgrade of existing installations to interlinked systems to adhere to the requirements of the new legislation, providing a cost effective and efficient approach to compliance.

Taking protection to the next level

Interlinked systems also offer the opportunity for the level of protection to be further increased, as by wirelessly meshing every device onto a private network, remote monitoring of the entire system can be achieved through the installation of a Connected Gateway, either upon initial installation or at a later date. This facilitates the transfer of data from every device in real-time to a centralised dashboard, including the current status of every alarm, network health, alarm diagnostics and replacement dates.

For private and social landlords, this achieves full traceability, audit and compliance management, as a complete overview of fire risk can be achieved across an entire property portfolio to help pinpoint increasing risk levels, whilst simultaneously simplifying the monitoring of alarm networks across every property. For tenants and property owners, this instant access to key information enables them to understand the status of the devices installed throughout the property and the level of protection they are receiving, removing previous barriers of understanding by creating a Golden Thread of information.

Interlinked systems also enable electrical contractors to document and evidence the completion of all necessary phases, as they can instantly log all information via the wireless network to validate the install. For example, by taking a photograph of each completed installation, the images can be wirelessly uploaded to a centralised platform to generate immediate sign off, which subsequently produces a certification of fire legislative compliance, in accordance with BS 5839-6.

This intelligent process of confirmation eradicates any requirement for paper-based data capture, ensuring each installation has been adequately assessed for competence and validated to ensure the maximum levels of detection have been achieved, completely revolutionising approaches to documentation and verification.

Looking to the future

The standard of protection that interlinked systems provides homeowners, renters and social and private landlords proves its case for installation across the entire United Kingdom, as it provides a preventative, rather than reactive, approach to fire and CO safety that can be cost effectively achieved throughout all types of residential properties.

By installing interlinked systems that adhere to an LD1 Category throughout residential properties across the UK, electrical engineers can achieve compliance with latest BS 5839-6 Standards, whilst also supporting the latest recommendations outlined within the Building Safety Bill 2021 and the Fire Safety Act 2021. This enables professionals to successfully futureproof residential installations to meet legislative updates before they come into force, by ensuring every type of residential property is protected to the highest possible standards.

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