Published 18 June 2024

NFCC reminds people to replace smoke alarms every 10 years

NFCC, in collaboration with the BBC’s Morning Live, last week reminded people of the importance of working smoke alarms in the home. Safety Advice was given to presenters Gethin Jones and Helen Skelton on the show by DIY expert Wayne Perrey including how to check if your smoke alarm is out of date. You can catch the segment on the Morning Live website.  

All smoke alarms (including hard-wired or those with removable batteries) should be replaced after 10 years, or by the replace by date on the base or earlier if they are found to be defective. The sensor in a smoke alarm can degrade over time.  Even if you hear the beep when you press the button to test it, the sensor may be less able to detect smoke, giving you less time to evacuate.  

New build homes in the UK must have smoke alarms installed to meet building regulations which differ in each country, but there is a chance people may not realise the alarms that came with a new build property could be past their 10-year lifecycle. So, it’s crucial that people check that these have been replaced.  

In private rented homes in England Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 were introduced which required smoke alarms to be installed. As these regulations approach 10 years it’s important that landlords replace these as part of planned maintenance in the next 12 months. Further regulations came into force in England in 2022 which extended the smoke alarm requirement to landlords of social rented accommodation.  

Scotland and Wales has differing legislation which requires inter linked alarms.  

Regulations are changing for private rented accommodation in Northern Ireland later in 2024. NFCC welcome these changes which will further help make sure that all homes in the UK are protected by smoke alarms. 

It’s important that tenants ensure their landlords are complying with the relevant laws in their country and seek advice from their local fire and rescue service if needed.  

No matter what alarms are installed in your home or who has installed them everyone should check their smoke alarms are working but testing them once a month. In rented homes this must be done by the tenant.  

If you have a battery-operated alarm NFCC recommends changing the battery each year. 

When buying smoke alarms make sure you buy from a reputable retailer and look for the British Standards kite mark or European Safety Mark. Take some time to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your alarms.  

Jon Quinn, National Fire Chiefs Council’s Home Safety Committee Chair said: 

“We believe all homes should be protected by working smoke alarms. We urge people to check their alarms have not passed their 10-year expiry date and whether you are a homeowner or tenant you test them regularly, at least once a month.  

“To reduce the risk of fire in the home we encourage people to complete an Online Home Fire Safety Check for yourself or your loved ones. It will provide simple steps and advice or even a visit from your local fire and rescue service to help keep you safe.” 

NFCC has worked with Fire Kills and Safelincs to develop an Online Home Fire Safety Check. The tool provides people with person-centred fire safety advice for the home and if needed a home fire safety visit from the local fire service which could include installing smoke alarms for homeowners.