25 January 2023

Keeping up to date with new legislation can be a fulltime job in and of itself. That said, I believe we should acknowledge the progress being made to ensure peoples’ safety and improve the quality of our homes in this country. The Fire Safety Act will hopefully help us achieve both those goals. I see on a daily basis the positive steps being taken by individuals and organisations across the housing sector in order to improve the safety of their housing stock. New legislation and guidance, such as this act, reinforces my view that the UK is leading the way in fire safety.

In the wider conversation surrounding fire safety, 2022 should be viewed as a year of real progress in the UK, with legislation being introduced in varying degrees across England, Scotland and Wales. In October, for example, we saw a minimum standard for fire and carbon monoxide detection established within England’s rental sector. Wales, likewise, introduced its own similar legislation in December. Both examples are a step in the right direction, but do these changes go far enough?

In my opinion, you only have to look to Scotland to see what progress looks like. In February 2022, the Scottish Government’s Tolerable Standard became law, impacting every household North of the border, both private and social. This legislation requires that all homes in Scotland must have fire alarms installed in all hallways and landings, as well as in kitchens and living rooms. The law was first introduced in 2019, giving landlords and homeowners a three-year period to meet the new higher standard.

So what effect has this legislation had in Scotland? Research conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) shows a range of positive social and economic impacts, of which improving life safety is obviously the most significant. In addition to this, there are a multitude of economic benefits of better fire detection. The Cebr’s research identifies some vast savings, calculating a £40-50 million reduction in fire related costs for Scotland alone. Replicated in England, this could amount to a potential saving of £243 million each year.

With such social and economic benefits resulting from this legislation in Scotland, surely uniformity across the 4 nations should be a priority for Westminster. And while there’s no doubt we’re making progress, when it comes to fire detection in the UK, the question remains – what more can we do?

Alex Parker

National Account Manager, Aico Ltd.

Fire legislation - are we doing enough?