HMOs and council approval of Wireless Fire Alarms – HELP!

by Readers Question

6 months ago

HMOs and council approval of Wireless Fire Alarms – HELP!

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HMOs and council approval of Wireless Fire Alarms – HELP!

I own an HMO in the London borough of Croydon where I have had no choice but install wireless, battery operated radio frequency interlinked fire alarms (specifically these are the AICO 10 year Lithium battery Ei600 series alarms, the only alarms on the market frequently accepted as an alternative to the mains wired systems). I have had to install these units, rather than use the mains wired ones, because the ceilings have very intricate Victorian plaster decorations and I didn’t want to destroy them.

I have since been told that these will not be approved by Croydon Council because they do not comply with the with standard of a mains wired system (British Standard 5839 part 6: 2013 Grade D: LD2 system).

Is there anyone out there who owns an HMO and HAS had these type of fire alarms approved by their local council? Any help/info would be MUCH appreciated!!

I read an old article on this subject and someone named Gary Dully replied stating he used the exactly the same alarms and these have been approved by the council – if you are reading this Gary any information (council name etc) would be extremely helpful!

Many thanks,

Antonio

Comments

Neil Patterson

6 months ago

Hi Antonio,

I think this was the article?: What smoke and heat alarms do HMO landlords use? >> https://www.property118.com/smoke-heat-alarms-hmo-landlords-use/

Neil Patterson

6 months ago

Also by Tessa Shepperson >> Fire safety and landlords legal obligations
https://www.property118.com/fire-safety-landlords-legal-obligations/

Antonio Taylor

6 months ago

Hi Neil,

Many thanks for your reply and useful links. It seems Gary is the only person in the forums who has used these type of alarms and had them approved, but I would need to know what council this was so I can give Croydon council an actual example to help pass my alarms. Gary if you are there.....?

reader

6 months ago

Antonio,
I have several converted blocks that are classified as HMOs. They are all fitted with wireless systems. Part of the system is as you have described i.e. the in flat aspect, together with a slightly more sophisicated wireless system that is inter linked and also covers the communal areas. In addition I have emergancy LED lighting and appropriate signage and all the other bits and pieces needed to pass a thorough Housing Health and Safety Rating System Assessment.

I had a snap inspection (without warning! "Invited in" by a tenant when they pressed the door bell) by a Fire Officer and Council staff. They commented that it was one of the best they have seen.

My supplier is Matt of Go2Fire who now covers M25 area too.

Good luck.

Mike

6 months ago

There are two things you need to remember Antonio, why HMO's require different types of approved smoke/heat detectors
1. They need to be interlinked to each of the other detectors so that tenants in each area/room can hear any alarm going off in an another area, since self closing fire doors make it hard for sound to be heard in other areas.
2. Tenants are irresponsible lot even for their own safety they disregard smoke alarms. and that is true as far as I am concerned, each time the battery alarm goes off for any reason other than real fire, tenants will try and make sure it does not go off ever again by removing its batteries.
So this is the reason, 9 out of 10 tenants simply remove the battery connector or remove batteries completely when any smoke detectors go off for other reasons, like smoke spilling into other rooms from kitchen during cooking.
A quick and less damaging solution would be to run cables on the wall or ceiling surface using plastic trunking which can be fixed to the ceiling or walls using a few small screws or self adhesive, so that when not needed the ceiling or walls can be restored to original condition, or one can even use a burglar alarm cable to supply each detector with a low voltage i.e. up to 12v dc and connect all detectors together to alarm on when any one goes off, but you need low voltage detectors that have also got facility to be connected together such that you or the occupant would know which detector has gone off.

Of course the low voltage detectors would then require a seperate 12v dc power supply housed in a suitable place connected to mains, and possibly with a rechargeable battery back up, some domestic burglar alarms have this facility to provide 12v low voltage battery backed power.

Mike

6 months ago

Antonio, I forgot to add, as long as the wireless alarms are mains operated with a battery back up, which means they only need to connect to nearest available mains power, this can be connecting to a nearest ceiling rose for lighting, then there is no problem with any council accepting them since wireless is only for interconnecting to other alarms, so that means all alarms must be compatible from the same manufacturer, I believe Aico does that. There is no way a council cannot accept them as long as they are wirelessely interconnected but each has its own mains supply and battery back up. Council officials often do not know what they are doing, Grenfell Tower inferno would confirm this.

Gary Dully

6 months ago

I’m here, nice to be wanted.
The smoke alarms are in fact mains powered, with a battery backup.
They are interlinked via radio wave base units or interlinked by the same cable that powers each one or a combination of the two methods.
The cable is available at screwfix.
The councils that have seen and not had any complaints are Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Flintshire.
But be careful, because if you have more than 2 floors the rules can change.
The main thing that you also require is something to knock them off when the toast gets burnt.
So Aico do a remote switch that you can place on each floor it’s just the size of a normal light switch with 3 big buttons on it.
They are a Godsend to avoid the alarms being smashed off the Ceilings’s by impatient tenants.

When your electrical safety inspection is carried out, if the wrong rated cable is used you will fail the test.

Antonio Taylor

6 months ago

Many, many thanks to everyone who has replied (the thanks goes out to 'reader', Mike and Gary!). I cannot tell you how useful and appreciated your comments have been. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that being a landlord can be a quite isolated experience (at least from other landlords), and when you have the council onto your backside, it feels even worse!

'Reader' - I will lool into the info you have provided me with. Although I doubt Croydon Council will approve.

Gary - your info was exactly the clarification I needed. I will do one final check to see if the council with approve my current system (and then let you all know of course if I have news), but as the answer is a 99% no, at least I will not live with that doubt 'but I know of a landlord who did get wireless systems approved' when I am forced to install radio interlinked, mains wired ones connected to the nearest ceiling rose (subject to having a permanent live available).

You would think that councils would change their regulations to keep up with the times / changing technologies but we all know they are dinosaurs....

Gary Dully

6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Antonio Taylor at 01/11/2017 - 09:23
Mine are normally wired into their own fuse on the consumer unit.
The alternative in Lincoln was a fused spur from fuse box that all the alarms draw power from.

The argument was done between the electrical contractor and the Council inspector, I just paid the invoice.

Mike

6 months ago

Fire Detection at earliest saves lives, so I am a firm believer in that, where detection of an early sign of a fire breaking out is rather more important than regulations such as fitting Heat detectors in Kitchens, I would go one better than a heat detector sensing heat after a fire has broken out, so what do you do to stop nuisance alarms when say a smoke detector fitted in a kitchen goes off every time someone puts a toaster on, or is simply frying food that causes smoke, and needless to say to overcome this problem they (Fire Authorities and Regulatators) not knowing how best to tackle this problem arrived at Heat Detector, in principle this device would only work if an actual fire has broken out to cause rise in temperature and the rate of rise, by which time the fire may already be beyond one's ability to control or put out.
So I came up with my own solution, and I believe that there are Detectors that actually work on this principle, which is to have a smoke detector fitted in the kitchen and have two stage alarm, though each stage can delay warning to occupants, however, if assuming the smoke Detector goes off and you are in the kitchen, making a toast, before the whole house is woken up, the smoke detector gives out a local warning buzzer, allowing you say between 5 to 10 seconds to press an alarm accept button fitted in the kitchen, so this cancels the interelink to other rooms, and kitchen buzzer also silences, giving you let us say between 10 minutes to 30 minutes to clear up smoke and cook your toast or other stuff, then the Detector re-arms itself and is going to do the same again if it detects smoke again.
I like cooking and other times I might put something on the cooker and gets dragged away to answer my phone AND forget that I had left a pan on the stove, how many times my smoke detector has saved me from this is unbelievable, so luckily for me in my own house a detector fitted just outside my kitchen in a corridor had picked up smoke and warned me of a potential build up to a real fire even before it started, and I am wondering if a Heat detector would have the same early responses,
Imagine if we did not have a radar during world war, the only way we would know an enemy had managed to infiltrate our airspace is when people start dialling 999 asking for Fire & Emergency response team.
A smoke Detector is an early warning radar for fires breaking out rather than a heat detector. But this is my personal view. (Luckily for me I am into Electronics and used to work in a Fire Alarm Industry, so modifying ordinary smoke detectors to issue two stage alarm is not a great deal difficult for me and have done so for my HMO)

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