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The Northern Ireland Executive has announced that carbon monoxide alarms will become mandatory under amended Building Regulations

Following on from recent changes affecting England and Wales, the Northern Ireland Executive has announced that carbon monoxide alarms will become mandatory under amended Building Regulations.

This proposal, which forms part of a wider consultation on Building Regulations this year, will require CO alarms in all dwellings where a combustion appliance is to be installed or replaced. It follows the deaths of two teenage friends in a modern holiday apartment complex with a gas appliance last summer. Sadly, the toll of deaths continues to grow from CO poisoning resulting from different types of appliances including solid fuel and wood-burning stoves, gas boilers and bottled-gas mobile heaters.

As a result, the Northern Ireland Regulation will apply to combustion appliances using any fuel. This contrasts with the 2010 Part J Approved Document, applying to England and Wales, which applies only to fixed solid fuel heating appliances – and a complete absence of CO alarm requirement in Scottish Standards. Pressure continues for mandatory CO alarms in all new homes and with replacement combustion appliances. A wide choice of different CO alarms is available today. For new buildings and major refurbishment or upgrade, Kidde Fyrnetics mains powered CO alarms are ideal, with sealed-in, rechargeable lithium cells for back-up, preventing tenant access. They can be interlinked and also used as part of Kidde Fyrnetics unique ‘Smart Interconnect’ system for whole-house fire and CO protection, in conjunction with the company’s hard-wired smoke and heat alarms. Where hard-wiring is not viable, battery powered units are also available, as well as plug-in mains CO alarms for transferable protection. 

Bearing in mind the unknown dangers involved here, it is also essential that CO alarms work effectively throughout their design lives. The Health and Safety Executive recommends that: “Before purchasing a CO alarm, always ensure it complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European approval mark, such as a Kitemark.” This third party approval is essential – just a CE mark is not enough – to demonstrate consistent performance, so ensuring occupant safety and avoiding the legal implications of supplying or fitting unapproved alarms. It is also important to select products that use electrochemical technology with a stable performance over time, proven by independent and accredited laboratories. Manufacturers that produce their own CO cells – the key component – rather than buying them in, can apply tighter quality controls. 

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