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Fire chiefs have welcomed the recent announcement that the government plans to introduce vital life-saving legislation on smoke alarms in rented properties ahead of the General Election.

New regulations which make it compulsory for all landlords to fit smoke alarms in rented homes are to be issued by the Government it was announced at the Local Government Association (LGA) conference in Gateshead. Preparations for the new powers requiring landlords to fit smoke alarms / carbon monoxide detectors in private rented homes having been completed, the legislation will now be laid before parliament before the end of this parliamentary session.

The announcement follows a major campaign through the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), with key evidence and research into the Government’s national review of the issue. The call formed part of CFOA and the LGA’s call to Government as part of the first 100 days of the next government: ‘The Fire and Rescue Service: Making our Nation Safer’.

“We know that most landlords will welcome this step, which will help protect their tenants and save lives,” said Peter Dartford, CFOA president. “CFOA will be working with the government to ensure that this new legislation is implemented as quickly as possible.”

Mark Cashin, CFOA’s Home Safety Lead said: “It is essential to ensure that politics and parliamentary procedures don’t stand in the way of this life-saving move. This change would improve the safety of families and stop dozens of people from losing their lives to fire each year. The cost to landlords is small, with a ten-year sealed alarm costing around £15. The move is widely supported by the public and associations representing landlords and tenants.”

Fire Minister, Penny Mordaunt, said: “Fire and rescue authorities will be very pleased that tenants in the private sector are to be given the protection from fire that they need. We will be working with them, and with the Chief Fire Officers Association, to make the transition for landlords as smooth as possible.”

Responding to the Fire Minister’s announcement that regulations requiring all private sector landlords to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms will be laid before this Parliament ends, Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee, said: “We are pleased that the Government has listened to our call for a mandatory requirement that private sector landlords install smoke alarms. The LGA has vigorously campaigned for this measure, which will save hundreds of lives every year. While the majority of private sector landlords are reputable and voluntarily install alarms, there are a small minority who do not, needlessly putting lives at risk. They have a duty of care to their tenants and this important measure will ensure this is met. A working smoke alarm can make the difference between life and death and should be seen as every bit as essential as a lock on the front door.”

The government’s own impact assessment suggested that over 200 lives could be saved over the next 10 years by the introduction of this legislation. The draft new laws would be enacted by the Government as part of the Energy Act, which was given Royal Assent in December 2013.