Recent developments signal greater demand for carbon monoxide alarms in homes, following a similar trend to smoke and heat alarms. But in both markets, wholesalers can benefit from the latest sealed-in battery models as well as hard-wired alarms, as Gerald Jones, Kidde Business Manager Professional and Fire Brigade Channels explains.
Until recently, there were no regulations requiring CO alarms to help combat carbon monoxide poisoning in homes in the UK. This contrasts with some other countries, for example a growing number of American States require CO alarms in all housing. But the Northern Ireland Executive has announced that carbon monoxide alarms will become mandatory under amended Building Regulations. This proposal will require CO alarms in all dwellings where a combustion appliance using any fuel is to be installed or replaced. It follows the recent deaths of two teenage friends in a modern holiday apartment complex with a gas appliance.
While there are other rules requiring CO alarms, such as where existing flues are hidden, Building Regulations Part J, which has been in place since 2010 and applies to England and Wales, only calls for a CO alarm in the same room as a new or replacement fixed solid fuel heating appliance. But what about other potential carbon monoxide sources in the home, particularly gas appliances? Now, the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has joined the debate and added to pressures for a change to Part J requiring carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in all new homes and wherever new combustion appliances are fitted.
In its March review, the CLG Committee picked up on discrepancies in approach between Part J and the new Green Deal Installer Standard. The Standard will include a requirement for installers to assess the impact of their work on air-tightness and any associated increased risks of CO poisoning, irrespective of fuel type. If there is any increase, a CO alarm must be installed, which can be hard-wired or battery powered. The CLG Committee commented: “We welcome the inclusion of carbon monoxide alarms in the Green Deal standard. Confusion between government departments, particularly in respect of public safety issues, is unacceptable and we conclude that the Government needs a comprehensive policy.
“We recommend that Part J should go even further and require audible, wired-up EN 50291-compliant carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted wherever a relevant heating appliance is installed in any new-build or existing homes.”
There are interesting parallels here with Regulations for hard-wired smoke and heat alarms in housing. With domestic fires, current requirements do not attempt to predict specific sources of fire but cover all situations. Mandatory hard-wired smoke/heat alarms in all new housing today therefore provide an effective, low-cost means of detecting and warning of fire.
By its very nature, carbon monoxide justifies exactly the same approach. Building Regulations should demand CO alarms in new homes and wherever any combustion appliance is fitted in existing dwellings, not just focus on specific risks such as solid fuel heating. The logical solution is a comprehensive linked system of hard-wired smoke, heat and CO alarms in every home. This can be accommodated by the latest products with facilities such as Smart Interconnect, which enable a number of Kidde Fyrnetics hard-wired CO, smoke and heat alarms to be interconnected for whole-house protection against both carbon monoxide and fire.
Added value features
Other features for hard-wired smoke and heat alarms are also being looked for by specifiers, adding value. For example, Kidde’s new RTH switch is used to communicate with a new Slick smoke or heat alarm which might otherwise be difficult to access. It is particularly useful for elderly or disabled people, or where alarms are fitted on high ceilings. The RTH switch is simply wireless linked to a new Slick Wireless Alarm Base and can be used to test that alarm. It can also be used to silence the linked alarm or all but the initiating interconnected alarms.
The unit is self-contained with an integral lithium battery and designed to operate reliably for 10 years under normal conditions. It is easy to set up and can be wall mounted with the bracket supplied, if required, then simply unclipped for portable use, for example in another room. An alternative Remote Test & Hush switch for wired connection to the alarm is also available.
The Slick Wireless Alarm Base accessory simply replaces the standard base plate and also enables Slick smoke or heat alarms to be interconnected wirelessly where required. This facility is ideal in existing buildings to avoid disruptive interconnect cabling, with each alarm powered from an adjacent lighting circuit.
Slick is still the only range of fast-fit rechargeable smoke and heat alarms guaranteed for 10 years and all Slick alarms are BSi Kitemarked to reinforce the consistent quality provided by the world’s largest manufacturer. Now, the second generation Slick includes the latest technology, extra features and accessories making it the cost saving alternative for social housing today.
Sealed battery models
Recent research suggests that less than 10% of existing homes have CO alarms – and much lower in some areas – highlighting a substantial potential market for battery powered products.
Housing associations and local authorities are also looking for high specification sealed battery powered models – particularly CO alarms, but also smoke alarms too which can be quickly installed by their maintenance teams. Here, Kidde Fyrnetics has raised the bar with both carbon monoxide alarms and heat alarms all fully guaranteed for 10-years. This impressive, shared replacement cycle ensures long-term, problem-free protection and simplified property management.
The brand new TenYCO battery powered carbon monoxide alarm (the very first available with a 10 year guarantee) complements the recently launched TEN-4 smoke alarm. Both ranges are specially designed for quick and simple installation by non-electricians and for low cost of ownership. They feature the best quality lithium batteries, only activated when the alarm is mounted onto its base plate so preserving freshness until needed. Batteries are sealed-in to ensure full 10 year lifetime operation, no call-backs and real cost of ownership savings. And both ranges feature a tamper resisting, self-locking installation system to avoid tenant interference.