New Fire & CO Alarm Guidance

Kidde has launched new editions of its CPD discussion documents to help all those involved with housing rethink their approach to fire and carbon monoxide alarms. In particular, they address issues raised by a new Code of Practice, wide-ranging requirements in Scotland and conflicting new English Building Regulations.

In an uncertain world, Kidde’s new CPD guides will help housing providers, developers and other specifiers understand the issues involved with fire and CO safety. One certainty today is that smoke, heat and CO alarms offer the first line of defence against fire or carbon monoxide in all types of housing, providing critical early warning at low costs.

But the right provision of alarms, both to detect fire or CO, and also ensure that occupants are alerted throughout the home, is critical. Here, Kidde’s independently certified ‘Guide to regulations & standards’ documents – one covering smoke and heat alarms, the other CO alarms – can help. In addition to reviewing current minimum requirements, topical issues and conflicts between the various current and proposed standards and regulations are addressed as ‘Talking Points’ to help readers question recommendations and make their own judgements.

New Code of Practice

For example, BS5839-6:2019, the new Code of Practice for fire detection and fire alarm systems in housing, includes important changes focused on alarm system ‘Grades’ (the reliability of a system in terms of its power sources) and ‘Categories’ (in which areas smoke/heat alarms are required for detection). Minimum recommended Grades and Categories for various types of housing are set out in Table 1 – the key part of the Code – now slimmed-down at Kidde’s instigation. But conflicts with the brand-new Building Regulations Approved Documents B remain.

As also recommended by Kidde, the 2019 Code now anticipates combined installations and a systematic approach to carbon monoxide and fire alarms in homes. The Scottish Government has also made major changes to the ‘Tolerable Standard’, applying to all housing tenures and taking effect from February 2021. In essence, the minimum safety standards currently in place for private rented properties will be extended to all other tenures, including social housing, and owner-occupied homes.

These requirements are based on the BS 5839-6 Code of Practice, ‘Category LD2’ level of protection, mirroring Scottish Building Regulations for new-builds, changes of use and extensions. This means a system of interconnected smoke and heat alarms, including smoke alarms in principal living rooms and heat alarms in all kitchens, as well as smoke alarms in circulation areas on each storey.

In addition, CO alarms will also be required in all homes with combustion appliances. The Scottish requirements consider that: “it makes practical sense to combine installation programmes for … smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms together”. This enlightened approach heralds the way for combining smoke, heat and CO alarms to provide more coverage and ensure that occupiers are awoken and alerted wherever they are in the property, whatever the risk. Kidde’s well-established Smart Interconnect facility was developed to meet this very need.

To download ‘Guide to regulations & standards’ documents visit: or to arrange a CPD presentation email:

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