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Test your smoke alarms

The subject of smoke alarms was very much in my mind over the last few days. An elderly member of my family was being driven mad by a beeping noise but couldn’t find out what it was – and of course it was because his smoke alarm needed a new battery. And then I read some interesting news: a new law is coming into force in France next week, making it mandatory for every residential property to have at least one smoke alarm.

France is way behind the UK in its use of smoke detectors. According to the Fire Industry Association, only two per cent of the 33 million homes in France currently have smoke alarms, with between 600 and 800 people dying in house fires every year. Compare that to England, where 89 per cent of homes have smoke alarms, with 258 deaths. The case would seem to be proven.

Interestingly only one device per property is required, although the new French legislation suggests that there should be one smoke alarm per storey and that these should be ‘solidly fixed to the highest point in the room’.

Since 1992, the law in this country states that at least one smoke alarm, directly wired into the mains, must be in place in every new property. There is no law governing older properties unless they are substantially modernised, but it would seem that the message has got through as so many homes now have some sort of device.

But it isn’t enough to just have a smoke alarm: they have to be well maintained. They should be replaced at least every 10 years and tested on a weekly basis. We’ve written before about the need to test regularly – and many fire services heavily promote a ‘Test it Tuesday’ campaign.

You can find some great advice about all this – and more – on UK Fire Service Resources website.

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