Is It Time To Test The Testers?
It’s been nearly four months since the new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide legislation came in to force, requiring that all private sector landlords regularly test smoke and CO alarms in all rented properties.
As part of the new legislation, landlords are advised to check their appliances are in proper working order and to test their CO alarms in order to alert them to the ‘silent and invisible killer’ after tests showed many devises were faulty.
Despite this positive legislation, currently there’s little to determine who should carry out the smoke or CO alarms tests, other than to say a ‘competent person’. Although the tests are simple to undertake, we’re keen for recognized and effectively trained people to take the lead in order for the tests to be independently verified.
In doing so, it would bring more neutrality to the process and allow Environmental Health Officers to more effectively determine who, when or how frequently alarms are tested.
To further help with the process GasSafe Europe is now offering a triplicate smoke and carbon monoxide alarm test record pads that can record the property address details, the details of the individual alarms tested as well as any faults found or replacements made.
Having a record of the test will better evidence the testing to Environmental Health Officers, however there still needs to be a consistency to the test and an assurance that the CO test is fully inclusive of the CO sensor as well as the circuits and power supplies.
To help landlords and homeowners meet the new legislation, Detectagas has been specifically designed to check the battery and sensor in alarms in one test by injecting a specific and safe level of test gas into a specially designed transparent cover over the alarm. The test kit is widely available to help landlords meet new legislative requirements.
If an alarm is found to be faulty, tamper-proof stickers are also available that notify residents that the alarm is faulty. These labels use extra strong glue and a very fragile material that means once it is used it is very hard to remove. This will prove ideal for inspectors as it will help ensure that alarms identified as faulty would be virtually impossible for them to be reused.
Getting the test right is extremely important as carbon monoxide poisoning accounts for more than 50 fatalities each year. To ensure tests are done correctly we believe there’s a need for greater consistency, improved knowledge as to what needs to be tested and how to effectively undertake the test. Once the right person has been identified it’s also a case of do they have:
- the right equipment to do the tests
- the ability to use this test equipment properly
- the ability to properly understand the test results
What’s clear is that the legislation is designed to help provide a safer living and work environment. As no one yet has been found to be in breach of the new legislation, it begs the question whether the legislation is been effectively policed or whether Environmental Health Officers have the ability to independently and accurately verify how effectively the tests were undertaken?