Electrical Contracting News (ECN) May 2016 - Page 49

FIRE DETECTION & SECURITY SPECIAL FEATURE heat alarms in some kitchens. But as the Code points out, LD3 ‘might not prevent death or serious injury of occupants of the room where fire originates’ such as living rooms. So, installers have a strong case to encourage landlords to meet the Code recommendations with more alarms. Interestingly, current Building Regulations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are all in line with the Code as well. Hard-wired and interconnected The Code also recommends Grade D hard-wired, interconnected smoke and heat alarms with back up power, excluding Grade F battery-only alarms from all rented homes. All the national Building Regulations also match this requirement. Despite this, the 2015 Rental regulations in England do not distinguish between battery and mains alarms, leaving the decision up to each landlord. Increasingly, responsible landlords are choosing interconnected, hard-wired mains smoke alarms with back up power which are already a legal requirement for all Scottish rented properties. And it is important to remember that battery-only smoke alarms are not permitted where Building Regulations apply anyway, such as new builds or changes of use, whether owner-occupied or rented. In such cases, the Building Regulations overrule the Rental Regulations. Hard-wired smoke and heat alarms should always be interconnected so that all the alarms sound when one is triggered. But there are both practical and aesthetic reasons to avoid interconnect cabling in existing homes. Here, wireless interconnection is an ideal solution, with each alarm simply powered from a lighting circuit nearby. Some wireless alarms also offer additional facilities using extra accessories, for example a remote switch to control an alarm that might otherwise be difficult to access. This is particularly useful for elderly or disabled people, or where alarms are fitted on higher ceilings. One important aspect of the Rental Regulations is the legal requirement for working alarms at the start of every Hard-wired smoke and heat alarms should always be interconnected so that all the alarms sound when one is triggered. The new Regulations call for a smoke alarm on each floor where there is accommodation. “ SYSTEMS CAN AUTOMATICALLY ALERT OCCUPANTS THROUGHOUT THE PROPERTY OF THE SPECIFIC HAZARD THAT CONFRONTS THEM. tenancy. With hard-wired alarms, this has implications for the back up power supply that, ideally, would operate throughout the whole alarm life, so also avoiding low-battery warnings. This can be satisfied by the latest generation of long-life lithium battery back up alarms at a much lower price than rechargeable products. There may also be situations where battery-only smoke alarms can provide quick, simple protection, particularly where no alarms are present at all in an existing building. With this in mind, the latest generation of long-life battery alarms, with a full 10 year guarantee covering both the alarm and sealed-in lithium battery can also help landlords in England meet their obligations for working alarms. Carbon monoxide alarms The same requirement for a working alarm at the start of every tenancy applies to CO alarms as well under the ‘Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015’. But the Rental Regulations only require a CO alarm in habitable rooms with solid fuel heating appliances. In contrast, with Statutory Guidance taking effect on 1st December last year, private rented properties in Scotlan