HOME ADVICE Cause for alarm over smoke detector tests?
Variances in the length of time models take to register threat mean it’s vital to do your research when buying one
moke detectors are essentials in every household. They save lives. However, despite the fact that they are cheap to buy and must be fitted in new homes, and loft extensions, many homes do not have fully functioning alarms.
In 2010, the London Fire Brigade found six out of 10 fire/smoke deaths were in homes without alarms. And Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service attributes 70 deaths a year to alarms which don’t function, often due to flat batteries.
There is a wide variety of smoke alarms on the market – everywhere from DIY superstores to online specialists- costing from under a tenner to more than £100 each.
The British Standard Kitemark is a legal must. But a new Which? investigation found wide variations in the times detectors took before sounding the alert – even though all were Kitemark approved.
It looked at 15 widely available alarms, testing them on four types of fire – smouldering wood, plastic, cotton and solvent. In tests involving wood, it found wide variations in response times. The Nest Protect 2nd Generation Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm, using the newer smart optical technology took five minutes and 13 seconds to sound the alert. It costs £100.
But two models from El Electronics – the Ei100B and the Ei3500S – took over nine minutes to raise the alert. These are less expensive, using older ionisation technology. Every second is vital in a fire/smoke emergency – over four minutes could be the difference between life and death.
Most alarmingly, one sample of the Devolo Home Control Smoke Detector completely failed – despite passing the British Standard test. Devolo said: “We are concerned by these results. The alarm passed standard safety tests at two certified laboratories.”
Which? is now calling for tougher tests that only pass models that sound more quickly. It has passed its findings to trading standards. BSI, which issues the official smoke alarm Kitemark says “whatever technology type is used, the alarm gives adequate warning when there is a real fire”. But it added that it is drafting a new smoke alarms standard. of shares and savings and any of the contents taken from the home, with a view to determining your claim generally. A CLAUSE in my will gives my trustees carte blanche to deal with my estate, including the right to invest in unsecured, interest-free loans and to handle my affairs ‘without any of the consents required by section 41 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925’. What does that mean? The 1925 Act laid down a narrow range of investment options which are commonly regarded as out of date nowadays and which might make it Every second counts when a fire breaks out in your home, so an effective smoke alarm is an essential protection difficult for your trustees to handle your finances efficiently; fortunately, statute has been altered since then and now the investments permitted by law are much wider. The aim of the clause is to give your trustees, or executors, full and unrestricted freedom in administering your will and transferring assets. WE HAVE lived on a council estate for 40 years and bought our house ten years ago. Since a new neighbour moved in, a large number of people have begun using the passageway we share with next door as a short cut into the next road. When I questioned one of the 1. Fit smoke alarms in positions where you will be able to hear them throughout your home. 2. Ensure detectors are within easy reach – that way you will be able to test them and replace batteries. 3. You should test alarms on a weekly basis – replace batteries yearly (unless they are five or ten year batteries). 4. You need at least one alarm for each level within your home. men, he told me he knew the girl next door and she didn’t mind, but I find it frightening to have large numbers of strangers passing my back door. Whether anybody can come and go up and down the passageway will depend on whether or not there is a right of way. You will need to check your deeds. If the right of way is just for yourself and your neighbours, then unless the people using the right of way are guests invited by your neighbour, then you are entitled to put a gate or a door on the passageway, and lock it, so long as your neighbour has a key. If they are people who have been invited by your neighbour The reaction times of smoke alarms vary considerably 5. Don’t fit alarms near cooking areas or bathrooms – they could be set off by fumes and steam. 6. If you, or frequent visitors, suffer from any form of hearing loss, buy alarms which have vibrating signals or flashing lights. 7. Some insurance policies may be invalidated if you fail to have smoke detectors in your home or fail to maintain them once installed. then the right of way will probably mean you have to persuade your neighbour to ask them to use another route. MY SISTER claims that, because she is the oldest, my mother’s house will go to her. In her will my mother leaves the house and contents to my father, with everything else to be shared between us. However my father has died since she made the will, so surely the house will go into mum’s estate and the proceeds will be shared? Unless your mother is a duchess and your sister is due to take the land and the title that goes with it on her death, the fact that she is older than you is irrelevant. Your mother’s will probably contains a clause anticipating the possibility that your father would die first, and stating what will happen to the property in that event. Failing that, the house will, as you say, form part of your mother’s estate and be divided equally among the children. Call Bromleys Solicitors LLP on 0161 330 6821 or visit www. bromleys.co.uk If you have any legal questions, write to Property Law, MEN Media, Mitchell Henry House, Hollinwood Avenue, Chadderton OL9 8EF, or email mail@lawQs.co.uk