Battery Powered Smoke Alarms Failing in Property Fires

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Battery powered smoke alarms have been found to be failing when it comes to fires in properties.

The Local Government Association (LGA) are urging people, including landlords, to test their smoke alarms due to recent analysis which showed nearly two thirds of battery-powered alarms failing in England last year.

While many landlords have battery powered smoke alarms fitted in their buy to let investment properties, as they are cheaper and easier to fit than mains powered alarms, they have been shown to be more likely to fail in the event of a property fire.

The data showed that while battery powered smoke alarms are accepted as part of a landlord’s legal obligations to install smoke detectors in their properties, firefighters attended more than 7,500 fires in homes with battery-powered alarms last year and found that 38 per cent failed to alert residents of the danger.

Other data in the research showed that incorrect positioning caused almost half (45 per cent) of the failures, while missing or faulty batteries caused 20 per cent.

Of 29,586 property fires attended in England between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, 22,475 homes were fitted with a smoke alarm.

Battery powered smoke alarms were found in 7,692 of the homes – but, of these, 2,899 (38 per cent) failed to sound. Mains-powered smoke alarms were reported to fail in 21 per cent of fires.

Cllr Ian Stephens, chair of the LGA’s fire services management committee, said: ‘Smoke alarms are proven life-savers, but these worrying ‘failure’ rates are a reminder to people to test their smoke alarms regularly and change batteries where necessary.

‘Smoke alarm ownership has risen over the years to more than 90 per cent, but this encouraging trend is being dangerously undermined if they don’t activate due to faulty batteries.

‘The run-up to the festive season is a timely reminder of the importance of fire safety, but working batteries aren’t just for toys at Christmas they are needed in smoke alarms all-year round.’

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