38% of battery powered fire alarms failed

38% of battery powered fire alarms failed

10:14 AM, 3rd December 2019, About 2 years ago 8

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The Local Government Association is encouraging all home owners, landlords and residents to test smoke alarms and replace batteries if required amid worrying failure rates and Christmas being a high risk time of year.

Figures show 38% of battery powered smoke alarms failed to activate in residential fires in England in the past year. This has worryingly remained at virtually the same level for nearly a decade.

21% of mains powered smoke alarms failed to operate in residential fires in 2018/19, but this failure rate is almost double at 38% for battery alarms and has stayed between 38% and 40% since 2010/11.

Cllr Ian Stephens, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said:

“Smoke alarms are proven life-savers, but these worrying ‘failure’ rates are a reminder to people to test their smoke alarms regularly and change batteries where necessary.

“Smoke alarm ownership has risen over the years to more than 90 per cent, but this encouraging trend is being dangerously undermined if they don’t activate due to faulty batteries.

“The run-up to the festive season is a timely reminder of the importance of fire safety, but working batteries aren’t just for toys at Christmas. They are needed in smoke alarms all-year round.

“With the increased potential fire risk from Christmas trees, decorations, candles and lighting, and people spending more time using heaters, open fires, and cooking hot food during the colder winter months, anyone without a smoke alarm should buy and fit one as soon as possible. They should also check the alarms of less able family members and those on their own – it may save their life.

“Many fire and rescue services can fit smoke detectors for free as part of a home fire safety visit.”


by Ian Narbeth

11:16 AM, 3rd December 2019, About 2 years ago

We are required to have mains-wired alarms in our HMOs. I recommend them strongly.
Battery alarms are just about acceptable in your own home provided you are careful to check them regularly and replace them promptly when necessary.
Cheapo alarms have replaceable batteries and it is not unknown for tenants to take them out when they run low and the alarm starts beeping. The other favourite is to "borrow them" for the TV remote or the kids' toys! Surprise, surprise the batteries aren't replaced in a hurry.
Some tenants also hate spending a penny on anything if they think someone else should do so.
At the end of the day, landlords, it's your very valuable asset and if it burns down and/or the occupiers are killed or injured you will have serous legal problems to deal with. I would not rely on batteries or on my tenants to replace them.

by Beaver

12:12 PM, 3rd December 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 03/12/2019 - 11:16
The last time I had an EICR (not a legal requirement but a good idea) the electrician told me the regulations said I had to install mains assisted heat/smoke detector in the kitchen and a mains assisted smoke detector in the hall. So that's what I did.

In the rooms where I have other gas appliances I buy cheapo alarms. But these are the sealed ones where you can't replace the battery. I think I got my last ones from B&Q. I had a choice of 2-year life and 5-year life. So I chose the 5-year ones and I just check them annually and whenever I'm in the property.

by Ian Narbeth

12:25 PM, 3rd December 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 03/12/2019 - 12:12I use a sealed alarm at home. The problem is what happens if the battery goes between your annual inspections and the alarm starts beeping so the tenant chucks it out because "it's annoying" and fails to tell you.

by Michael Barnes

16:42 PM, 3rd December 2019, About 2 years ago

And when the mains-powered ones develop a fault, the tenant just trips the breaker and removes the back-up batteries.

by Jireh Homes

22:16 PM, 3rd December 2019, About 2 years ago

Scotland has been leading the way on this topic as hard wired interlinked heat and smoke alarms have been mandatory within the PRS for many years, although there is a potentially looming issue in that many of these are now approaching the end of their 10 year design life. A recent change in the legislation now allows use of 10 year sealed long-life battery alarms as an alternative to hard wired, but still have to be interlinked. Testing operation of the alarms should be part of every periodic inspection, with clause in the lease for the tenants to also check on a regular basis.

by Ian Morgan

8:13 AM, 7th December 2019, About 2 years ago

New fire alarm regs came into force April this year, this site has a great guide to the changes, they are one of the main manufacturers:- https://www.aico.co.uk/bs5839-6/

The biggest implication for my HMOs is the "tamper proof battery backup", which means all of my alarms will need changing. Being a sparky also, it surprises me that on site no building control is enforcing these new standards yet and I haven't seen any guidance from Cardiff council wrt PRS standards, where my HMOs are based.... My main wholesaler doesn't even stock the tamper proof battery variety!

Watch this space.... BTW they are twice the price per unit

by Paul Tarry

20:42 PM, 7th December 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Michael Barnes at 03/12/2019 - 16:42
The tenant should not be abler to remove the backup batteries and trip the circuit as they are wired into the lighting circuit specifically to stop this action

by Michael Barnes

22:53 PM, 8th December 2019, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Tarry at 07/12/2019 - 20:42
In one of my properties the smoke alarms are on a separate circuit with fire-resistant cable.

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