The Scottish Government is to ask parliament to delay new regulations on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by 12 months, because of the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The announcement was made late yesterday (Tuesday 20 October), shortly after Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan announced he had proposed a delay following representations by constituents.

Dr Allan wrote to the minister for local government, housing and planning, Kevin Stewart MSP, to raise the issue of upcoming changes to the laws around fire and smoke alarms.

Due to take effect from February 2021, these changes will require that every home must have a smoke alarm in the living room and in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings, a heat alarm in every kitchen, all alarms ceiling mounted and interlinked and a carbon monoxide alarm where there are fixed combustion appliances such as boilers and wood burners.

Dr Allan said: “I have received a number of enquiries from constituents over the course of the last week who were unaware of the upcoming changes to the regulations for fire and smoke alarms in homes.

“These changes are important…. However, there is very low public awareness of these changes and the pandemic will cause difficulties for households trying to get tradespeople in. I spoke to the Minister about this issue last week to ask whether it is reasonable to expect households to be compliant by February.”

In what appeared to be an instant response to the raising of the issue, a statement issued by the Scottish Government at 8.46pm yesterday (Tuesday) acknowledged the practical difficulties likely to be faced by homeowners and suggested moving implementation of the new regulations back to February 2022.

Minister Kevin Stewart MSP said: “Fire safety is an absolute priority for the Scottish Government, and we remain committed to implementing these improved regulations, which will mean everyone will benefit from the same level of protection, whether they own their home or rent from a social or private landlord.

“Given the impact of COVID-19, and the difficulties this is likely to create for people seeking to install new smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, we have listened to concerns and decided to ask the Scottish Parliament to delay implementation.

“If this delay is approved, we will continue to work with partners to spread awareness of the changes before the new deadline. Our focus will be on supporting householders to ensure satisfactory fire alarms are installed so we can improve the safety of their homes.”

The Scottish Government has made more than £15 million of loan funding available for social landlords ensuring that social tenants are safe in their homes and provided funding of £870,000 each year for two years to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to support their home safety visits to ensure vulnerable and high risk people can get the necessary alarms installed at no cost to them so that they are safe in their homes.

Home safety visits by Scottish Fire and Rescue have been suspended. Their website states: “To ensure the safety of the public and of our staff during the Coronavirus outbreak, we have taken the decision to temporarily stop most Home Fire Safety Visits except for those where the occupiers are identified as being at very high risk.”