Smoke detector requirements for RSLs in Scotland

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    Ben Milligan
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    My colleague attended the SFHA’s fire safety forum last week, where the main topic for discussion – not surprisingly – was the Scottish Government’s plan to extend the current minimum safe standard of fire detection in private rented housing to cover other tenures, including RSLs and private ownership. It is anticipated this proposal will be laid before Parliament this August, after which there will be a two year compliance period for landlords to equip each property with:

    • 1 x functioning smoke detector in the room most commonly used for general daytime living
    • 1 x functioning smoke detector in every circulation area
    • 1 x heat detector in the kitchen
    • All the above to be interlinked

    Suffice to say, the general consensus at the forum was that the proposed timescale is unachievable (the SFHA is lobbying for a five year compliance period, so the works can be carried out at the same time as EICRs ) and that this is another example of the government forcing RSLs to spend yet more of their budgets on complying with new legislation, while the government expects rents to be kept low and property standards to be improved but makes no public funds available to assist with meeting compliance.

    Apart from the budget issue, the other key points discussed were:

    • Will progress reports on compliance form part of future ARC returns or reports to the regulator? [No answer available at this time]

    • Will building warrants be needed for the installation of hard-wired interlinked systems? [Most forum attendees expressed a preference for sealed battery, radio-linked detectors]

    • Will forced entry, as per gas servicing procedures, be required to achieve compliance?

    • Is anyone with a technical background, familiar with the workings of RSLs, advising the Government? [Unknown at this time]

    • Is there scope for lobbying the Government for cash to help fund compliance?

    • Can manufacturers and suppliers meet the demand for interlinked fire detection systems that a nationwide, two year programme will generate?

    • Could compliance be extended in the future to include common areas?

    • Could a procedure be devised for identifying (and prioritising) high-risk properties?

    • What are the ongoing, annual maintenance costs of domestic interlinked systems (estimated initial installation costs are £350-£400 per property)?

    • Will the regulator impose penalties if annual servicing / inspection of systems falls below 100%?

    While not considered a knee-jerk reaction to the Grenfell Tower fire, some attendees considered this plan to be rushed and not fully considered. Some viewed it as a political need to be seen to be doing something rather than a measured response with input from fire safety professionals. Some attendees stated that fire risks have already reduced post-Grenfell following property inspections and policy amendments since last June.

    The key recommendation following this discussion was that RSLs should forward details of how compliance with this plan will impact on their budgets and investment plans to David Stewart of SFHA.

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by Ben Milligan.
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