With UK legislation surrounding carbon-monoxide (CO) alarms for social properties changing rapidly, Ian Ballinger, FireAngel’s director of compliance, explores how housing providers can achieve the maximum level of protection.
Following changes to home-safety laws across the UK, housing providers in England and Scotland must now install a CO alarm in every room which has a fuel-burning appliance. New legislation in Wales (from December 2022) also requires that a working CO alarm is present in any room which has a gas, oil or solid fuel-burning appliance installed.
Carbon monoxide continues to present a dangerous risk, with NHS data showing over 200 people are hospitalised with suspected carbon-monoxide poisoning each year, leading to around 50 deaths. As a tasteless, odourless and colourless gas, carbon monoxide is undetectable by the human senses. A third-party-certified audible CO alarm that meets European Standard EN 50291-1:2018 is the only way to alert residents to rising levels of carbon monoxide.
Ensuring protection for all
Recent revisions to building regulations stipulate CO alarms need to be installed in every room which is used as living accommodation containing a fixed combustion appliance. Devices should be positioned either on a wall or shelf, at least 150mm away from the ceiling and approximately 1-3 metres away from a potential CO source.
Housing providers are responsible for repairing or replacing any faulty alarms, and any provider found in breach of the legislation could be fined up to £5,000.
Steve Boggis, trade business unit director, FireAngel, said, “Although significant changes have been made to legislation surrounding CO alarms in domestic properties, there still remains concerning disparities regarding the minimum level of protection required throughout each country and property type
“With four million households living in rented social housing in England, the new regulations are definitely a step in the right direction. If the same level of regulation regarding CO alarms in Scotland had been introduced, it would have been a significant achievement.
“However, data can soon be analysed to see how effective these changes have been and to influence any future improvements in regulations to keep householders in any type of accommodation safer.”
Protecting the most vulnerable
Any detection measures that can provide an early warning for residents from carbon monoxide is a step towards saving more lives from a very preventable source of harm.
However, with the current cost of living crisis and fuel price increases, we could see the most vulnerable people looking at alternative ways to heat and cook in their homes, which may present potential fire and CO risks.
The National Fire Chiefs’ Council home safety committee has formed a cost of living crisis working group to identify safety issues and form partnerships with fuel providers, local authorities and safety-product manufacturers.
Providing the highest possible standard of CO protection
FireAngel is supporting housing providers in achieving the highest levels of CO protection with its new range of battery-powered CO alarms, designed for installers, which comply with the latest EN 50291-1:2018 standard.
Installers should always look for proof of third-party accreditation such as the BSI kitemark to EN 50291-1:2018 before they buy or install CO alarms.
Featuring 10-year, sealed-for-life lithium batteries and supplied with a five-year warranty, the FireAngel FA3328 and FA3820 battery-powered CO alarms contain electrochemical sensing technology which provides an accurate and proven method of sensing carbon monoxide, in line with the latest requirements.
The alarms’ low-level monitoring function contains an intelligent sensor which increases its sensing rate for detection of low levels of CO, in line with the new informative annex in EN 50291-1:2018.
This reduces the health risks of CO poisoning from constant low CO concentrations, while simultaneously preventing the build-up of dangerous levels of CO, by detecting levels as low as 10ppm. The cost-effective and efficient alarms also provide rapid alerts to dangerous CO levels.
The FA3328 CO alarm with Sync-IT (NFC technology) features advanced data extraction capabilities; the NFC capability syncs via the cloud to provide all alarm data and maintenance information as a PDF report. This allows housing providers to see all data on CO levels, activations and testing events, providing a holistic view of protection.
Ian Ballinger is the director of compliance at FireAngel.