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Smoke Alarms

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 25 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make it his policy to require (a) local authorities and (b) registered social landlords to ensure that all of their residential properties have working smoke alarms. (300219)

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assesses 29 categories of housing hazards, such as excess cold, electrical hazards, falls, fire, explosions etc. It applies to all residential property regardless of tenure. If a local authority considers that there is a serious (Category 1) hazard, it has a duty to take the most appropriate action.

As far as assessing the risk from fire is concerned, the lack of smoke detectors and or heat detectors, or defective smoke detectors and or heat detectors with alarms are considered relevant matters in an HHSRS assessment.

In 2001 the Department issued guidance to all local authority housing directors emphasising the importance the government attaches to encouraging the wider provision of smoke alarms in domestic properties.

More broadly, it has been our policy for some time that smoke alarms have a vital role to play in saving lives as they provide the vital early warning of fire and therefore help people to escape. Since 1987, the Government have conducted high profile national and regional television campaigns promoting smoke alarms which have proved very successful. Ownership has increased from 9 per cent. in 1987 to the current level of 80 pert cent. and we are seeking to raise it further as evidence suggests that those without alarms are often in those groups who are most at risk from fire. The Government are currently running a national media advertisement to promote smoke alarms ownership and maintenance messages.