The smoke alarm, heat alarm and carbon monoxide laws are changing in Scotland. From February 2022, all Scottish homes will need to have interlinked smoke and heat alarms installed.
When one interlinked alarm senses danger - either a smoke alarm sensing smoke or a heat alarm sensing rapidly rising temperatures - both will sound.
Homes that have a fuel-burning appliance, such as a boiler, an open fire or a log burner, will also need to have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm installed in the room the appliance is in. The CO alarm doesn't need to be interlinked, though.
We explain exactly what's changing and why.
If you live in Scotland and you currently have smoke and heat alarms that aren't interlinked, you'll need to install interlinked alarms by February 2022 to meet the requirements of the new regulations.
Interlinked alarms will all sound when one detects danger. For example, if heat is rising quickly in the kitchen, which could indicate a fire, the heat alarm and any linked smoke alarms will all sound together.
The regulations state that all homes will need a smoke alarm installed in the most used room. That's likely to be the living room in most homes.
In addition to this, the new Scottish regulations also require interlinked smoke alarms to be fitted in all hallways and landings in homes.
A heat alarm is better suited to a kitchen than a smoke alarm, as a smoke alarm could be set off by smoke from cooking. Heat alarms are designed to react to rapidly rising temperatures which could indicate a fire, rather than to smoke.
Under the new Scottish regulations, from February 2022, all homes will need a heat alarm that links to smoke alarms fitted elsewhere in the home.
Alarms, whether interlinked or not, that run off replaceable batteries - like the one shown above - don't meet the requirements of the new Scottish regulations.
When the new regulations come into force, interlinked smoke and heat alarms will need to be mains powered or come with a sealed tamper-proof long life (up to 10 years) battery.
Every smoke and heat alarm fitted will need to be fitted to the ceiling, so resting an alarm on a high shelf or on top of a cupboard won't meet the requirements of the new regulations.
Interlinked alarms connect with other linked alarms through radio. They don't need WiFi to be able to connect.
The new law was introduced following the Grenfell fire in 2017. It was due to come into force in 2021 but its implementation has been delayed by a year due to the Covid pandemic.
It's the property owner's responsibility to make sure that smoke and heat alarms fitted meet the new standard.
In rental accommodation, the responsibility for fitting the alarms will fall on the landlord.
The new regulations in fact already apply to the rental sector and are now being extended to cover all housing, both privately owned and rental.
If you rent a property in Scotland, and think that there is a problem with the alarms fitted in your home - and that the landlord is failing to comply with the law - you are entitled to apply to the first-tier tribunal (Housing and property Chamber), which was set up to deal with landlord and tenant issues.
The Nest protect smoke and CO alarm from Google is both a smoke alarm and as a CO alarm. But, from February 2022, the Nest alarm will no longer meet the requirements of the new Scottish alarm laws.
This is because, while it can be linked to other Nest alarms, all of which will sound when they detect smoke or CO, the Nest has no way of detecting heat rises. And having an interlinked heat alarm is a requirement of the new laws in Scotland.
If you own a Nest smoke and CO alarm, you will be able to continue to use it. But it would need to be as well as interlinked smoke and heat alarms rather than instead of them.
We spoke to Google about this. Google told us that customers who purchased their Nest Protect from Google Store, who are currently living in Scotland and who bought their device within the three years prior to March 1 2022 can contact Google customer support for a full refund.
Yes. Homes with a fuel burning appliance in Scotland will need a CO alarm from February 2022.
So, if you have a boiler, a log burner or an open fire, you'll need to have a CO alarm installed in your home.
However, unlike the new regulations relating to smoke and heat alarms, there's no requirement for CO alarms to be interlinked with any other kind of alarm.
We've recently tested related smoke and heat alarms from the same manufacturers that will work in an interlinked system with one another.
In addition to our standard responsiveness tests, where we see how well the alarms react to danger - be that smoke from fires or rapidly rising heat - we have also checked whether, when one sounds, they all sound.
The most recently tested interlinked alarms are mains powered and in 2022 we will be running tests of sealed-battery interlinked smoke and heat alarms.
We've recently tested the following smoke and heat alarms:
Your smoke and heat alarms don't just need to comply with the law: they need to work.