RESIDENTS are being urged to contact their MPs to demand a change in the law so all privately rented accommodation must be fitted with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
As it stands, the law requires all privately rented properties built after 1992 to be fitted with the detectors, as well as multiple vacancy properties. However, this leaves many properties built before that date not covered.
The dangers of this were exposed recently after a coroner ruled fire victim Victoria Stockman, of Rodbourne, could have survived had there been a working alarm in the property she rented.
The government is now considering legislation to bring in a ban but Martin Wicks, secretary of the Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, says people should contact their MPs to put pressure on them, something supported by Wiltshire Fire and Rescue.
He said: “This is such an anomaly in the law which needs to be closed as soon as possible. I think most people would naturally assume that it was already law but for certain properties it is not.
“Landlords have a duty of care to protect their tenants so I don’t see how this can properly be done without smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
“The cost of installing a fire alarm is tiny when you consider it could save a life.”
It is estimated that 82 per cent of privately rented accommodation in the UK has an alarm and with an estimated 14,000 such properties in Swindon there is a potential for a lot of lives to be at risk.
Martin said: “The government are looking at this but the more people who let their MPs know the stronger the case will be.
“I have been in contact with our MPs who have said they will look into it but the more people who say something the more will be added to their argument.”
It is a sentiment which has been echoed by the fire service, who say many lives could be saved at such a small cost.
Station Manager Kathy Collis, of Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, said: “This is something we would urge people to do. We know that 38 per cent of people killed in domestic fires do so in properties without an alarm.
“We also want landlords who do have alarms to come forward and show the difference it makes having an alarm.
“It is such a small price to pay for something which could make such a big difference.”