Scottish Government, Totalitarianism, Smoke Alarms, Pianos… You name it! 

In the name of safety, and in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in England, the Scottish Government is changing the law to require every home-owner in Scotland to install fire and heat alarms all over the house – and it doesn’t matter if you live in a tiny flat, the same rules apply. As one reader who does live in a one-bedroom flat points out, it’s bad enough when one smoke alarm goes off, but if, as this new law requires, there are umpteen around the place all interlinked, this is likely to be a real nuisance, day and night.   As a Catholic, she wonders if she is within her rights to refuse to comply – because the local authority has the power to enforce this law and she’s not sure what that would mean and if it might entail causing public scandal if her non-compliance is reported in the media.  

Here’s the BBC report on this change to Scottish Law, which the Government claims has come in “after consultation” but I, for one, can’t find anyone who was consulted.  And it’s interesting checking out what the electricians are saying; certainly the Government’s claim that the basic cost to each home-owner should be around £200 seems to fall very far wide of the mark.  Electricians are likely to make a fortune out of this latest intrusion into family life by the Scottish Government – remember, they’re not forking out to pay for this;  home-owners are left to foot the bill. 

Comment: 

Is our reader right to worry about causing scandal by refusing to comply with this new legislation?  Or is the Scottish Government, yet again, intruding into family life, this time in the name of safety standards, as the Named Person Scheme is justified in the name of child protection?  What next?  What if the Scottish Government decides – in the name of improving mental health – that we all ought to learn a musical instrument and so we must all install a piano in the living room?  Might seem like a crazy analogy but we live in crazy times!

On a serious note… Can any Government do that? Tell us what to install in our homes, post-purchase? Surely, it is up to each of us to decide what we want to place in our homes?  Are we soon going to have to install burglar alarms? Are homes in London going to be required NOT to have knives, as part of the attempts to end the knife-crime epidemic there?  Just where does the authority of politicians end, and the rights of the individual take precedence?  Does the “woman’s right to choose” what happens to “her body” only apply to abortion? What about my female neighbour’s right to choose not to have a bunch of interlinked smoke and heat alarms installed to protect her body… Doesn’t she have that right to choose?   Share your thoughts – and any legal expertise you may have lurking under your belt…

And to our readers in other parts of the UK – this is very likely to come to your neck of the woods as well, so, think on, as they say south of the border 😀

21 responses

  1. As if the Scottish government care about our safety. That’ll be right. If they really cared, they would pay for the installation of these alarms. This is all about show – they want to be seen to do something after Grenfell.

    I don’t think the woman would be in the wrong to not comply but looking at the government page under the heading “How will you check that home owners comply?” it says that it will show in the Home Report when you come to sell your home. So, you won’t get the best price for your house unless it’s got the alarms, which will be the “minimum standard for safe houses.”

    If they get away with this, the Scottish government will intrude more and more into our lives. It’s a disgrace and no way will it only cost £200. What about the ceilings when the electricians are done? They will probably need re-plastered and re-painted and you can’t just do that at the part where the alarm has been installed. I can imagine the costs spiralling.

  2. No, I don’t think the reader should be concerned with causing scandal. We have every right not to comply with unjust laws.

    I actually disabled my smoke alarm because it goes off at the slightest sign of smoke, e.g. when I’m using the toaster. It doesn’t wait till the bread is burnt, it just goes off for no reason, so I can’t imagine the hassle I’ll have if I have to have them on the landings and a heat alarm in the kitchen – what’s that all about? There’s supposed to be heat in the kitchen, for goodness sake!

    Would it make any difference if we inundated our MSPs with letters about this?

    • Margaret Mary,

      I agree about the reader and scandal – it’s not scandal to fight an injustice and a government telling us what to do in our own homes, within our own four walls, is not on. They are bound to say it’s for our own safety but that is up to each one of us to decide on what steps we want to take to safeguard our own homes. The SNP government is just dreadful in every way. I hope they get kicked out at the next election.

  3. “Are homes in London going to be required NOT to have knives, as part of the attempts to end the knife-crime epidemic there?

    Asda have now removed knives from sale!

    So much for living in a “free society” where the governments can tell you what to have in your homes and what not to have! Scotland is definitely a “Nanny State”.

    I don’t think everyone will comply with this new law, I really don’t. Who can afford that, it sounds like a wholesale rewiring of every property – a bonanza for electricians!

  4. I agree with everyone! However, I have 2 smoke alarms, each with a 10 year lithium battery installed, which although not cheap (about £23 each) they are the only ones recommended by the Fire Service and they are easy to fit without causing any structural or cosmetic damage (they have to be as I did this myself). There was no need to involve an electrician.

    Margaret Mary’s comment reminded me of my brother’s predicament – he also disabled the fire alarm which was fitted to the ceiling of his flat by an electrician because he couldn’t light a match without causing mayhem!

    • Therese,

      It’s not just smoke alarms to be fitted, we also have to fit heat alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. It’s a recipe for mayhem.

      • Margaret

        I’ve never heard of heat alarms, and have no idea how they work. The whole thing seems outrageous, and I agree, it is a recipe for mayhem. I do wonder if this stupid “law” will ever be passed.

        • Therese,

          According to the report from the Scottish Government which I linked above, “the regulations come into force in February 2021” so the law has been passed.

          For all the talk about their “consultation”, I didn’t know anything about it until a parishioner handed me a copy of a Daily Mail report a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve not met anyone who knew anything about it before I told them – and that includes a friend of mine who is an avid supporter of the SNP and an active member of the Party.

          This is how they get stuff through and claim “consultation”. They ask around a few compliant friends, the head of the fire brigade a police chief, whoever, whatever, and then they can say they’ve “consulted”. Disgraceful.

          Oh and then – I’m guessing – a tip off to a tabloid to gauge public reaction, relying on the general apathy of a population already engaged in trying to pay for their next meal. At the risk of repeating myself – disgraceful.

  5. I live in a one-bedroom apartment and I already have one smoke alarm which can be a nuisance, going off for no good reason, as others have said. When I read about this in the Mail, I wrote to my MSP because if a whole load of alarms go off during the night, I wouldn’t hear them as I wear hearing aids and take them out overnight. I’m afraid that neighbours would send for the fire brigade if they go off in the night and what a fuss and fright that would be to find my house full of emergency services people who broke down the door to get in to “save” me, just because I couldn’t hear the alarms. Mine has never gone off when there has been danger, just if someone was smoking, so I’ll have to live and try to sleep with this fear, because writing to the MSP hasn’t done any good. I just got the typical letter repeating why they are doing this. I think it’s totalitarianism – as a pensioner I can’t afford the costs but apart from that I’m more afraid of having so many linked alarms going off in the middle of the night. It’s a terrifying thought.

    So, to answer the question, no I don’t think the reader is wrong to not comply, even if it reaches the papers. I am wondering myself about taking legal advice, although I suspect the government have stitched it up so that we have to obey.

    • That IS terrifying – I am not going to comply and I urge others to be non-compliant as well. That’s the only way they’ll get the message that we’re not going to allow ourselves to be instructed about how to run our homes.

      What a NERVE!

  6. Editor

    I’m not sure if this new law has actually gone anywhere, since the BBC report you linked is dated March 18, 2018. In the year that has passed I haven’t heard anything more about it. I’ll need to see if I can find an update on the story somewhere.

    Anyway, the “consultation” referred to in the BBC report was carried out, I believe, in England following Grenfell. The SNP have simply jumped on it and are trying to show the world how they, Communists, are at the cutting edge of new legislation. So-called “Gay Marriage” was introduced here before England, Wales or Ireland, as was the family intrusive guardian for every child nonsense which no other reasonable British nation has copied.

    The quicker the Scottish people get shot of the SNP from Scottish life the better. They are an embarrassment to Scotland. I dread any of them opening their mouth to speak in Westminster because they all sound and look like wee scruffy rogues who got in through the back door. The have absolutely no political presence about them whatsoever, just a shower of agitators.

    • Athanasius,

      I hadn’t noticed the date on the BBC report but it’s “gone somewhere” all right – a parishioner at church gave me a copy of a Daily Mail article of recent date but for the life of me I can’t find a link to it online, and I’ve mislaid the hard copy. I checked the BBC report and it gave much the same information so I chose to link it, instead.

      Anyway, if you check the link to the Scottish Government page, which I’ll post here for ease of reference, you’ll see that this new law will take effect in February, 2021.
      https://www.gov.scot/publications/fire-and-smoke-alarms-in-scottish-homes/

      As one who tries to watch Prime Minister’s Questions on TV every week, I couldn’t agree more with your description of the SNP MPs in your final paragraph. They are a total embarrassment and, at the time when they staged a walk-out in Parliament, I emailed every single one of them to say so, with my lead email addressed to Joanna Cherry QC, to point out that her disrespectful waving to the Speaker as she dawdled out was less than professional.

      I’d like to think they’ll be gone at the next election but not sure any other Party has the numbers to replace them.

      • Editor

        Thanks for that clarification, I now see that this daft law is being pushed. But 2021? Will the SNP still be in government then, I wonder. Hope not. Mind you, Look at the oppositon. I couldn’t vote for any of the parties, they’re all singing off the same cultural Marxist hymn sheet. We have no decent politicians in Scotland, and not that many left in England either. What a mess!

        • Athanasius,

          They’ve made it enforceable by February 2021, but expect us all to begin installing the alarms now.

          There’s no way I’m installing them. I’ve had a few near-heart attacks as it is, with just one smoke alarm going off – it’s in the hall near the kitchen, so any time there’s some steam from the kettle or something cooking the (insert adjective) device causes an almighty din and I have to rush for the nearest tea-towel. They can sue me, lock me up, who cares, but I’m not risking a real heart attack which is what will happen if I have several of these smoke (and other) alarms in my humble home. Unless, of course, some genius finds a way to answer my question, below, in the positive…

          • Editor

            You’re right about the noise, It’s deafening and you get the fright of your life. It means I would never again be able to burn my toast, which is how I like it.

            In similar defiance to yourself, I refuse to install anything beyond the two smoke alarms we already have in our house, one upstairs and one downstairs in the hall between kitchen and living room. Two is quite enough.

  7. Where I live there is Shelter Housing nearby and lots of The Residents are older than me which makes for more Accidents I suppose. But at Least 3 times a week mostly on separate days . 2 Fire 🔥 Brigade Engines at a time fly up our Streets to These False Alarms. Now I know that safety is important but if these Engines are going to False Alarms constantly ( as the Alarms go off in the Fire Station) then foreby the cost it means of course their taken away should a real fire occur. I spoke to someone within this complex and he says he can hardly make a slice of toast without said Alarms going off . Now there are of course or there should be Smoke Alarms in these Shelter Complexes but there is a Janitor there who could easily inform the Fire Brigade that their presence is not required but this is not the Health and Safety Law . For as one who worked with Alarms if an Alarm is tied to the Fire Station and goes off they by Law must attend. As a P.S. the only time where I worked and there was a real Fire and the Brigade turned up they asked me to go in first to check where it was situated as they weren’t sure of the Geography of the Building. Of course I was masked up but could and should have refused. As regards to Grenfell Smoke Alarms would have been useless as the substitutes for Asbestos unless its Glass Wool are rubbish ,and the authorities know this . Had the insulation in Grenfell been Asbestos it would Never had happened.

    • FOOF,

      WOW! That is some story! Reminds me of an incident years and YEARS ago, when, as a young (slim,glamorous, witty, highly intelligent, you’ll get my drift) girl, I was at a meeting in an office block in Glasgow when the fire alarm sounded loud and clear. The gentleman with whom I’d been in discussion said “hold on, I’ll just go and check that that’s only a test or false alarm, not the real thing” to which I replied: “Not at all, YOU hold on and I’ll go and check!”

  8. In my country, they took the same decision, but many people gave up…
    At Christmas when people lit candles Christmas tree, many alarms were triggered in a deafening din.
    We can no longer walk 50 meters on the public space without meeting a prohibition sign!

    • Lionel,

      The politicians love to say that we are living in “socially progressive, democratic countries” – baloney! The truth is, we’ve never been less free – for a number of reasons, and this latest intrusion into our personal lives is but one more example of that fact.

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