Fire, smoke and heat alarms

Fire and smoke alarms are essential for home safety. Learn about what to buy, how to install them, and why you need them in your home

The law change

The law on fire and smoke alarms has changed. All Scottish homes will need to have interlinked alarms as of February 2022. 

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017, legislation was introduced by the Scottish Government.

Alarms you need in your home 

Smoke alarms are essential for every home. They should always be combined with a heat alarm placed in the kitchen. All smoke and heat alarms should be mounted on the ceiling and be interlinked. 

Interlinked alarms are when one alarm is triggered all the alarms will go off simultaneously. This means you can be alerted no matter where you are in your home. 

As of February 2022 every home must have: 

  • one smoke alarm in the living room or the room you use most 
  • one smoke alarm in every hallway or landing 
  • one heat alarm in the kitchen 

Carbon monoxide alarms should be used if you have heating or cooking appliances fuelled by gas, coal, wood or oil. This does not need to be linked to the fire alarms. 

More information on the law change is available on Scottish Government website. 

Who is responsible for fire alarms?  

It is the home owners responsibility for meeting the new standard.  

If you are a private tenant, your landlord is responsible.  

For council or housing association tenants, work is ongoing to make sure your home meets the new standards. 

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What to look for when buying alarms

You can use either sealed battery alarms or mains-wired alarms. 

Both types of alarm are interlinked by radio frequency and do not need WiFi. 

There is no list of approved suppliers or fitters. When buying your alarm, check that they comply with the following standards: 

  • smoke alarms: BS EN14604:2005 
  • heat alarms: BS 5446-2:2003 
  • carbon monoxide detector: British Kitemark EN 50291-1 

Specialised smoke and heat alarms 

There are a range of specialised alarms for people with sight, hearing, mobility issues or other special needs. These include mains-powered smoke alarms with back-up batteries, and vibrating pads and flashing lights that warn people who cannot hear well. 

For advice about where you can get additional help consider contacting your local authority, housing association, social work department or your local community fire station. Our firefighters can help you in finding assistance. 

How do I install the alarms? 

Alarms will come with screws and rawl plugs (the plastic sleeves needed when putting screws into plasterboard). You’ll need a screwdriver and possibly a drill. Read the instructions that come with the alarm for further information. 

Where should I fit smoke and heat alarms? 

The best place for a smoke alarm is on the ceiling. Try and keep them 30cm (12 inches) away from any walls, lights, doors, heating or air-conditioning vents. 

You should be able to hear the alarm in every room in the house, even with the doors closed. Test the alarm to make sure you can hear it, and that all interlinked alarms sound at the same time. If you can’t hear it, move it or fit more alarms.   

Ideally, you want to have an alarm within 7 metres (22 feet) of the living room door and 3 metres (9 feet) of a bedroom door. 

In homes with more than one level, fit alarms in the downstairs hallway and on every stair landing. 
For extra safety, fit smoke alarms in the bedrooms too – this can help protect you while you sleep. 

You should also fit an interlinked heat detector in your kitchen.

Looking after your alarms 


  • Take the batteries out, even for a short time 
  • Paint over or put stickers on the smoke alarm 

Every week 

  • Test your smoke alarm by pressing the ‘test’ button. If it doesn’t sound, fit a new battery. If it still doesn’t sound, fit a new alarm 

Every year 

  • Replace the battery (unless you have a special ‘long-life’ alarm with a built in battery).  
    Choose a date you’ll remember easily to do this, like a birthday or anniversary 
  • Keep it clean and dust free.  
    Gently vacuum the inside and outside casing. If you’re decorating or doing something that creates a lot of dust, use an elastic band to secure a plastic bag over the smoke alarm casing. Don’t forget to take it off when you’re done. 

Every ten years 

  • Replace each smoke and heat alarm. The material inside smoke alarms that makes them work gets tired as it gets old. This is also true for carbon dioxide detectors.

How do I stop false alarms? 

Try not to fit smoke alarms too close to the kitchen door – steam and cooking fumes are the most common cause of false alarms. 

You can get some smoke alarms that are specially designed for use close to kitchens. Others have ‘silence’ buttons that will stop the alarm sounding for a short time while the air clears. 

Heat alarms, which should be installed in your kitchen, are designed so they wont be set off by lots of steam or other fumes. 

What can SFRS do

To protect the most vulnerable, SFRS will only fit interlinked alarms into owner-occupied homes where the individual/household is assessed as “high risk” through our Home Fire Safety Visit assessment process. 

If the individual / household does not meet these criteria, staff will provide safety advice, information and details of the revised legislation during the visit. Interim detection can also be supplied if the property has no detectors at present. 

Individuals who want a free Home Fire Safety Visit can do so by:

  • calling 0800 0731 999
  • texting "FIRE" to 80800
  • booking online

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