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Aico virtual event examines new Scottish fire safety legislation

31 August 2021

AICO HAS held a virtual event focused on the changes to the Scottish Tolerable Standard, gaining clarification and examining implementation. Introduced in 2019 as a direct result of recent fire tragedies, the new Tolerable Standard details requirements for fire and carbon monoxide detection within residential dwellings throughout Scotland.

Applicable to all properties and tenures, including private homeowners, the Tolerable Standard means that homes must be fitted with an interlinked fire alarm system and adequate carbon monoxide detection by February 2022.

The new legislative requirements stipulate that smoke alarms must be installed in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings, as well as in the room most frequently used for general daytime living purposes. A heat alarm has to be installed in every kitchen and all smoke and heat alarms should be interlinked, either via traditional cabling methods or wirelessly.

Carbon monoxide alarms are to be fitted where there’s a fuel-burning appliance or a flue.

Aico’s virtual event sought to clarify these requirements, explore practical implementation and the associated challenges. Guest speakers included representatives from the Scottish Government, the Clydebank Housing Association and Perth and Kinross Council.

Background to the requirements

First, Simon Roberts of the housing standards and quality team at the Scottish Government gave an overview of the Tolerable Standard, the basic standard for habitability and the background as to how these requirements have arisen. It’s known that incidences of fatality and casualties from fire are lower when operational alarms are present. Roberts explained that the new requirements have emerged as a result of recommendations outlined by Building and Fire Safety Ministerial Working Group that focus on the drive towards safer homes, promoting health and well-being at all times.

The Building and Fire Safety Ministerial Working Group was established after the Grenfell Tower fire in order to review Scotland’s existing building and fire safety regulatory frameworks.

A social housing perspective was then delivered by Jack Devlin (acting housing services manager for Clydebank Housing Association) and Alan Burns (team leader at Perth and Kinross Council). Both detailed their approach to the implementation of upgrades to the fire and carbon Monoxide alarm systems across their respective organisations’ housing stock, duly praising the “invaluable training and support” Aico has provided.

Devlin outlined the challenges involved in actioning the necessary upgrades, among them property access, the effects of the pandemic and the issue of evidencing compliance. He went on to say how Aico’s Ei1000G SmartLINK Gateway has provided a solution to the latter, proving to be “a crucial tool” for the Housing Association.

Burns echoed the challenges involved, highlighting that resident engagement is paramount when it comes to reducing access issues. Perth and Kinross Council is also looking to implement Aico’s SmartLINK Gateway in the future, recognising the benefits that this introduction will bring in terms of efficient management and maintenance.

An interactive Question and Answer session concluded the event, with themes around the consequences of failing to meet the requirements, the impact on insurance policies, the future scope for improvements to standards and also legislation pertaining to home life safety.

Excellent engagement

Tony Boyle, relationships manager for Aico, commented: “The feedback from our Tolerable Standard event has been resoundingly positive with excellent engagement from all those who attended resulting in insightful and thought-provoking discussions. For the last couple of years now, we’ve had many enquiries from registered social landlords, the private rented sector and homeowners on what the Tolerable Standard means for them. We took it upon ourselves to provide an opportunity to learn more and pose questions to the Scottish Government, directly clearing up any grey areas and gaining full clarity on the requirements involved.”

Focusing on the future of fire safety legislation throughout the UK, Boyle went on to observe: “Scotland has been leading the way on fire safety for a number of years. Events like this one will be a catalyst for the other home nations to adopt similar legislation and promote Best Practice, which will in turn create safer communities.”

Aico’s virtual event highlighted that Scotland is adaptive on the issue of fire safety. It has also raised a key question: ‘Can the rest of the UK follow suit in adopting an holistic approach towards home life safety?’

*Further information on the new Scottish legislation is available online at www.aico.co.uk/scottish-legislation/