Expect laws being introduced to ensure that all private landlords install smoke alarms, say Fire and Rescue Authorities across England and Wales.
Currently, landlords are only legally obliged to install smoke alarms if they are renting out Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), but that means there are 3.5 million smaller private rental homes which do not have to have them installed by law.
The government passed a Bill in 2013 which would require all private landlords to provide smoke alarms but this has gone out to consultation and has not yet been brought into force. Now, with a general election looming, Fire and Rescue Authorities are calling for this law to be enacted.
The call for action forms a central part of a key report from the Local Government Association ( LGA ), The Fire and Rescue Service: Making our Nation Safer, which was launched on 7 February in collaboration with the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFAO).
The document sets out a blueprint for the next government, with both this proposal and a number of others detailing how fire and rescue services can improve fire safety and save the public purse money.
Latest figures show that more than 200 people die in home fires every year (in both rental and owner occupier properties) and that householders are at least four times more likely to die in a fire if they do not have a working smoke alarm.
The LGA report suggests that more than £6.5m could be saved from the public purse by making smoke alarms mandatory in private rented properties and at the same time reduce the risk of fire and associated deaths and injuries for millions of households.
Fire and Rescue Authorities are already taking the lead by giving out free alarms and launching safety awareness campaigns but they argue that, given the tough austerity climate, it must be down to private landlords to ensure that alarms are installed.
Mandatory smoke alarms is also set to be a key issue at the LGA ’s annual fire conference in March.