Home Safety Week 2019
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Councils (NFCC) Home Safety Week, running from 30th September to 6th October 2019. We’re encouraging households to check that their smoke alarms are right for their home’s needs and will provide them with an early warning in the event of a fire.
Most homes have smoke alarms installed (95%) but in nearly 20% of accidental house fires in the UK, alarms failed to activate. The most common reasons were that the smoke failed to reach the detector and because batteries were either missing or defective.
We’re encouraging people to:
- Replace alarms every 10 years – Even if they appear to work when tested
- Fit additional alarms in the rooms used most
- Install interlinked alarms, so when one activates they all do
- Purchase sealed unit alarms, so that batteries cannot be removed or tampered with.
It’s important to think about the risks in your own home to ensure that you have the right detection in the right places, not just installing a smoke alarm on the landing and in the hallway. This might mean installing more alarms in your home, particularly in the rooms used most.
Home detection technology has advanced and products with sealed batteries or interlinked systems are available and as part of your home safety plan may give you precious minutes to escape if a fire starts.
You can access all of our Safety information here
Most people are aware they need an alarm in circulation spaces (landings and hallways), and may think that this means their home is sufficiently covered. But most fires start in rooms that are used the most – particularly if these rooms are used for smoking or have electrical equipment.
Examples of high risk profiles include a teenager who has a lot of electrical equipment in their room, a person with a mobility issue or use of candles or heaters in the home.
Alarms can be interlinked wirelessly, so when one alarm detects a fire they all go off together. This ensures people are alerted and can react to to a fire as soon as possible. We encourage the use of interlinked alarms – particularly wireless interlinking as this is less intrusive & more accessible for householders.
The use of sealed battery smoke alarms is also encouraged as sensors can degrade over time and lose their effectiveness at detecting smoke. Rather than replacing a battery every year the entire unit can be replaced at the end of its effective life. Units are tamper proof and so battery cannot be removed. This can be a problem with ionisation alarms due to their rate of false alarming.
National Statistics 2017-18
- There were 34,987 accidental dwelling fires in the UK in 2017-18 which resulted in 293 fatalities and around 6,000 casualties.
- In nearly 20% of accidental dwelling fires the smoke alarm failed to operate*
- 20% of failures were due to missing or defective batteries
- 46% due to smoke not reaching the detector
Even when an alarm is installed statistics show that in the event of a fire they may not always activate. The most common reason for this occurring is due to smoke failing to reach the detector.
Reasons such as not enough detectors or detectors not in the right places and degradation of detection sensors in smoke alarms may contribute to this statistic.
In 2017/18, 90% of households in England reported having at least one working smoke alarm. But the proportion of households with working smoke alarms varied depending on tenure. Housing Association tenants at 96%, local authority 93%, 89% owner occupiers and 89% of private renters.
The report also says 23% of households had never tested their smoke alarms with private renters least likely to test (29% never do) but very closely followed by all groups in the rented social housing. Owner occupiers in England are most likely to test their smoke alarms, with 80% testing at least once a year.
• Fitting a smoke alarm on every floor of a home should be recognised as a minimum standard (in a circulation space such as a hall or landing).
• It is recommended that, additionally, smoke alarms are fitted in every room in the house which is regularly inhabited (i.e. bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms) based upon the fire risk to the occupants.
• NFCC recommend the use of sealed battery smoke alarms
• It is recommended that a heat alarm should be fitted in the kitchen.
• Where possible, these alarms should be inter-linked so that all will actuate if one does.
General Public Recommendations
• Fit smoke alarms in the rooms you use most not just in halls and landings
• Make sure your smoke alarms work by testing them regularly
• Contact us if you or someone you know may require help assessing their fire risk and installing the right alarms in the right places for their risk – Here
• Telecare users should make sure alarms are linked to their Telecare system
• Your landlord has a legal and moral duty to protect their tenants by fitting and maintaining smoke alarms
• Let tenants know how and who to report a problem with landlords not installing smoke (and CO) alarms to
• It’s up to tenants to test alarms regularly and report a problem
• Tenants should review their needs for their own risks – so they may wish to install more smoke and CO alarms than the law requires their landlord to install
Smoke Alarm Troubleshooting
NFCC has worked with the main smoke alarm manufacturers to produce troubleshooting guides for smoke alarms.
The above guides can be used to rectify any problems or contact the manufacturer for help.
- If your smoke alarm beeps, bleeps or chirps take a minute to check it’s okay. It might just be trying to tell you it needs replacing
- Make sure smoke alarms are not placed in dusty areas and give them a clean occasionally – Dust can damage the sensor causing false alarms or your alarms not to work when you need them to
- All smoke alarms should be replaced after ten years. Even if your alarms appears to work when tested the sensor may have degraded. This can lead to false alarms or even your alarms not working when you need them to
- If you live in rented accommodation your landlord should have installed smoke alarms. But it is down to you to test them on a regularly and report any problems