Tories urge another delay to Scotland's controversial fire alarm legislation
The Scottish Government has been urged to again delay new laws requiring the use of interlinked fire alarms amid a warning that the requirements are unfeasible on the current timetable.
A freedom of information request by the Scottish Conservatives has revealed that the SNP Government has no record of how many households still need to install the devices - and that the most recent information they hold is over two years out of date. The data from 2019 shows that half a million households had yet to comply with the requirements.
Laws requiring all households to have interlinked fire alarm systems are currently set to come into effect in just over a month - on 1 February. The responsibility for meeting the new standards lies with homeowners.
The regulations have already been postponed by a year, to allow households additional time to comply with the measures. The Scottish Conservatives are now calling on the requirements to be postponed again, to prevent households being “caught out” by the new laws amid a global shortage of computer chips to make the sensors function.
Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for housing and local government, Miles Briggs said: “The SNP’s dismal forward-planning and lack of research has made these requirements completely unachievable in the current timescale.
“Half a million Scottish households were falling short of the requirements two years ago - and from the SNP’s complete lack of action in the time since, it seems unlikely that progress has been made. That means up to 500,000 Scottish households may still end up being caught out by these new laws.”
He added: “The SNP have already postponed the scheme once - but it is not enough to simply delay the law and then do nothing to help households meet the requirements in the interim.
“It would be deeply unfair for the SNP to expect households to comply with this new law in just two months, given that they themselves have done nothing to monitor the progress of this scheme, or research how many homes are still falling short. The SNP Government must now delay the law once again, and finally commit to a thorough plan for ensuring households are able to meet the requirements by the new deadline.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This legislation was introduced to protect lives and property following the tragic Grenfell fire, ensuring that all homes meet the same fire safety standards that we already have in new build properties and the private rental sector. It places a legal duty on local authorities to ensure homes in their area meet the new standard.
“The new rules allow flexibility for home owners unable to install alarms by 1 February. No one will be criminalised if they need more time and there are no penalties for non-compliance.”
He added: “Homeowners are generally responsible for paying for works to protect their property, but we know some may not be able to meet the cost of fitting these alarms. That is why we have provided £500,000 through Care and Repair Scotland to help disabled and older people install the alarms in their homes. This is in addition to the £1 million we have provided to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to install alarms in owner-occupied homes identified as being at highest risk.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.