Lack of smoke alarms in fire homes

Monday February 21st 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

More than half of homes firefighters were called to in Midlothian over the last three months of last year did not have a working smoke alarm in them, it has been revealed.

Fire crews attended 19 accidental house fires across Midlothian between October and December last year – and found no working detector in 11 of them.

A report to Midlothian Police and Fire Rescue Board, revealed that most of the incidents involved single person homes, with a third of the fires caused by cooking.

And the board was told Scottish Fire and Rescue crews called to homes with no working alarms are still fitting the old stand alone detectors, with only properties deemed “high risk” given the new interlinked system which became law this month.

Fire service group commander David Girrity said no home would be left unprotected as he acknowledged the new law has caused “a lot of angst”.

He said: “In relation to smoke detection Scottish Fire and Rescue have no statutory responsibility or legislative obligation to fit detection.

“What we will not do is sit back and allow is somebody’s property not to have detection, so we will fit smoke detectors within that property and it will be either to the old standard depending on the risk produced from the property itself which will be stand alone detection so the ones that aren’t interlinked.

He added: “But through our home fire safety visit process if the individuals are identified to be at high risk and greater risk of fire then we will fit the new level of detection. That is the criteria we follow.”

“It is really the responsibility of councils and when it comes to private properties the individual owners.

“It has cost us a lot of angst as we are getting a lot of calls from people about how they can meet the cost and get the detectors themselves.

The board heard that between October to December last year crews were called to 19 accidental dwelling fires with 12 in single persons household.

The report said: “Unfortunately, 11 of the 19 properties did not have working smoke alarms fitted.”

It also revealed that during the same period the service attended 106 unwanted fire alarm signal incidents – an increase of 30 incidents compared to the same period in the previous year.

Nearly half of them were caused by faults or unknown reasons, with 14% described as accidental or good intent and 9% sparked by people smoking, cooking or burnt toast.

However it added 5% were malicious breakage of call points.

The service has carried out a public consultation nationally to look at ways to reduce the number of unwanted fire alarm calls and is analysing the findings.

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