Highland Council’s Housing and Property Committee was told today (3 February 2022) that the local authority is very close to full compliance with new fire safety legislation which came into force on February 1 2022.
Highland has been installing new interconnected smoke and heat alarms to meet the new standard into its homes.
It is important to note that all Council houses will already have existing fire detection provision and that ongoing works are to extend provision to meet the new standards.
Compliance with the new legislation has been particularly challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government restrictions around safe working practices.
The recent Omicron wave, which we are still experiencing here in Highland, has continued to impact on the programme and as a result of a large number of tenants isolating at this time the Council has had to delay installations where this was the scenario.
Contractors have also reported that their reduced capacity has delayed much of their work in recent weeks with some parts of Highland more affected than others by the impact of Omicron infection.
Despite this, in excess of 90% compliance has been achieved across Highland to date.
Chair of Highland Council’s Housing and Property Committee, Cllr Laurie Fraser, said:
“Highland Council is fully committed to bringing all our Council houses up to the new standard within the next few weeks.
“The compliance level to date reflects the good progress made despite the challenges of delivering such a large programme of works at this time.”
Please note that the compliance percentage may be slightly higher than that recorded once the Council has confirmation of contractor access for scheduled installations.
As stated above, all houses will already be partially compliant and may only require one or two additional alarms to reach full compliance with the new standard.
Area teams have reported that of the non-compliant houses, over 97% of these will have had at least 1 scheduled access attempt prior to the compliance date.
The vast majority of the non-compliant houses have had a minimum of 2 or 3 non-access appointments.
It should be noted that the Council has scheduled entry to the remaining houses subject to permitted access from tenants.
Non-access has been an issue across Scotland with local authorities reporting similar issues.
Unfortunately, in these cases forced access arrangements will be required on a large number of homes in February, similar to the annual gas safety requirements.
Full details of compliance and cost will be reported to both the Scottish Housing Regulator and Housing and Property Committee at the end of the financial year.
The Scottish Government and COSLA have issued the joint statement confirming acknowledgement of the landlord and contractor challenges in meeting the new legislation in such a short period of time.