Where should fire alarm sensors be installed?

Where should fire alarm sensors be installed?

Having fire alarm sensors in your home and business premises is clearly essential to protect lives, property and the things you keep in them.
But more important is having those fire, heat and smoke sensors in the optimal locations to detect any fire as it starts – so it can alert you and give you the crucial seconds you need to get people to safety and either deal with it yourself or call the Fire Service.

New standard

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, here in Scotland the Scottish Government Ministerial created a Working Group on Building and Fire Safety to review Scotland’s building and fire safety regulatory frameworks. Its recommendations were made law in January 2019 in legislation introduced via the (Tolerable Standard) (Extension of Criterion) Order 2019 amending the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987.
The updated standard regulation includes the following criteria for “satisfactory equipment for detecting fire and giving warning in the event of fire or suspected fire”.

This is what is deemed “satisfactory” in a home:

  • One smoke alarm installed in the room “most frequently used for general daytime living purposes” - normally the living room/lounge;
  • One smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey – e.g. hallways and landings;
  • One heat alarm in every kitchen.

You should also note all smoke and heat alarms have to be ceiling-mounted and interlinked, so popping a battery-operated one on something in each space is no longer enough, though linking can be done through a wireless connection.
Where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (such as a boilers, fire or heater) or a flue, a carbon monoxide detector is also required. But it doesn’t need to be linked to the fire alarms.


When do the new rules apply?

The regulations were due to come into force in February this year, but, in light of practical compliance difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scottish Parliament agreed to delay the implementation until February 2022.
Which means all households have to comply by then. But doing so early means more protection quicker for you, your family, colleagues and the things you want to protect. We take that view with all compliance measures. It will also help you comply with what your home insurer will require.

Better protection measures

‘Satisfactory’ is a minimum to achieve. You can and should do more to protect everyone and everything better by following these tips:

  • Have an alarm within 7 metres (22 feet) of the Living Room door and 3 metres (9 feet) of a bedroom door
  • Fit smoke sensors in the bedrooms too – this can help protect everyone while you sleep
  • Fit sensors anywhere else you think a fire may start
  • Keep alarm sensors at least 30cm (12 inches) away from any walls, lights, doors, heating or air-conditioning vents – so as to avoid false alarms
  • Try not to fit smoke alarms too close to the kitchen door – steam and cooking fumes are the most common cause of false alarms. You can buy smoke alarms designed for use close to kitchens. Others have ‘silence’ buttons to stop the alarm sounding for a while as the air clears.
  • Test the alarm to make sure you can hear it clearly from every room in the house, even with the doors closed

Commercial premises

When it comes to commercial premises, it’s best to follow the advice of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Government and get professional advice on sensor locations – to both detect any fires and minimise your commercial insurance premiums.
In a business setting responsibility for complying with the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the linked Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 falls on the ‘Duty Holder’. They may be the owner or top executive or any person who may have control “to any extent of any part of the premises”.

If you are the Duty Holder, you must carry out a fire risk assessment of all premises which must focus on the safety of all 'relevant persons' in case of fire.
Your fire risk assessment will help you identify the nature and extent of the fire risks on-site and the general fire precautions, including heat and smoke sensors, you need to take to protect people and assets against the risks identified. If you employ five or more people, you must record the significant findings of your risk assessment.
For details of non-domestic fire safety regulations in Scotland, read this page on the Scottish Government website. Or give us a call for a chat and arrange an assessment.

Get in touch

Fraser Fire & Security provides fire safety and security services across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Inverness. For more information get in touch.


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