Handyman changing smoke alarm in apartment communal area.

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by nmh, Nov 10, 2021.

  1. nmh

    nmh New Member

    Evening all,

    I just wanted to check whether I'm legally allowed to employ the handyman we use for property maintenance to replace an expired hardwired smoke detector in a communal area of an apartment block.

    Don't want to breach H&S regulations!

    Cheers folks.
  2. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    I don’t think you are going to get legal advice from a screwfix forum. If you need a legal opinion that you can rely on I think you’ll need to employ a lawyer.

    however to fully advise you I think they will need to understand the handyman’s qualification abs to understand the risk assessment you have carried out too. You should also consider whether there are any hazardous materials present such as asbestos together with any risk mitigation that might be needed
    GoldenArches likes this.
  3. nmh

    nmh New Member

    What I'm trying to ask is whether or not it requires an electrician. A handyman is legally allowed change fittings and switches so I just wanted to know if smoke alarms would fall under the same rule.
  4. Wayners

    Wayners Screwfix Select

    When I change mine they just slide out from backing plate. If you can get the same one then it will slide back on the wired backing plate. It's a 30 second job. It's marked to insert flat blade screwdriver in tap and comes off after studying for a while.
    There is a 9v battery in mine as a backup if electric is cut off which is a serviceable part and you slide out to get to it. So no need to get a qualified sparks just to slide out the old and slide in the new one, however if you can't get the same and you need to turn electric off and swap backing plate, that may need someone that is qualified I guess.
    Note. I'd turn power off anyway to swap just to be safe.

    That's my opinion.
    GoldenArches and Hans_25 like this.
  5. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    I am not sure it has anything to do with rules. It is more to do with legislation and regulations. Whether a handyman is allow to do so because it falls outside of the relevant building regulation scope is one thing. The other as you mention is whether you have a duty of care employing someone to do this. If you are not comfortable they have the skills and experience you may be liable as an employer. You may need to take your own legal advice

    alternatively if it’s an aico slide on smoke detector : most are then you will have spent longer writing this thread than changing the detector :)
    GoldenArches likes this.
  6. dray

    dray Active Member

    Just my opinion, but look at it the other way perhaps, how much more legal trouble looming if anything happened while the said detector was out of use in a communal area
    Most of the H&S legislation discusses what is 'reasonable and practicable' and I would think that changing a like for like detector head would be ok. Course if the wiring needs altering or interlinking heads or control panel need to be tested then that is different.
    GoldenArches likes this.
  7. Alan sherriff

    Alan sherriff Active Member

    I would think a test of the circuit would be essential if under contract then they would have flagged up as it stated it has to be replaced someone must have identified by testing ?
    GoldenArches likes this.
  8. sparko69

    sparko69 Screwfix Select

    It is your responsibility to make sure that no danger is created by your handyman.
    Will the handyman be able to take an earth loop test?
    Will the handyman be able to avoid receiving an electric shock and also make sure nobody else gets an electric shock?
    What if the handyman doesn't install the detectors properly and then the property burns down?
    Just to save a few £ I think you are pushing your luck,get an electrician who understands how smoke detectors work.
    GoldenArches likes this.
  9. adgjl

    adgjl Active Member

    When you say “hard wired smoke detector” do you mean linked smoke detector like you can buy at any of the diy sheds, or do you mean you have a proper fire panel? The answer may be different for each!
    GoldenArches likes this.
  10. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    As an electrician I was not trained to swap smoke alarms, I was sent on a short course many years ago, but at work I don't test or change smoke alarms simply as I don't have the test equipment to see if they work, we employ some one who comes in with the smoke generator to test all the alarms work, I suspect he is not an electrician, if he finds a faulty one often I swap it then he re-tests it.

    But as to if down the HSE requirements or insurance requirements I don't know.

    The highest level of electrician was Competent person. A person who possesses sufficient technical knowledge, relevant practical skills and experience for the nature of the electrical work undertaken and is able at all times to prevent danger and, where appropriate, injury to him/herself and others.

    There is no single qualification which means some one can call himself an electrician, I could have done my apprenticeship without going to collage, and could have been taught by my peers, so the question with all work given to employees is have they got the training required? And also will my insurance cover if I ask him to do this work?
  11. Comlec

    Comlec Screwfix Select

    One day it was out of date, the next time we looked it was in date. No idea how that happened, honest gov, just baffling.
    GoldenArches likes this.
  12. The Happy Builder

    The Happy Builder Screwfix Select

    If I did the job I would send you an Electrical Minor Works Certificate and a Fire Alarm Inspection Certificate.

    However presumably you aren’t too bothered about maintaining the fire alarm to the required standard as if you did there would not be an expired an alarm, because it should have been replaced after the last formal inspection that was carried out before it expired.

    If there is a fire the only thing that may save you from prosecution is the fact that after a fire the fire brigade can only determine if there was an alarm or not, because after a fire generally it is not possible to read the date printed on the alarm.
    GoldenArches likes this.
  13. GoldenArches

    GoldenArches Member

    I believe the alarms are the manufactured guidelines and they aren’t necessarily required to be replaced unless faulty.

    If you have a panel that should be getting tested every 3/6 months so your fire servicing engineer should be the one fixing it.

    You also don’t say who you are? A resident or property manager etc?
  14. GoldenArches

    GoldenArches Member

    Curious as to why a minor works? Surely the servicing cert would state you replaced the detector and checked system?
  15. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    Many handymen do minor electrical repairs as part of their offering, so long as they comply with the regs and do not do notifiable work (unless of course they are CPS members, again, some are) then it's entirely legal.

    They must, of course, as stated before make the relevant tests and issue a minor works certificate.

    To be able to do this work the handyman must:-

    Feel he is competent to do it, and have knowledge of the regs.
    Have test equipment that is in current calibration.
    Have this kind of thing covered on his insurance.
    Be happy to fill in and issue a minor works certificate.
  16. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    I'm assuming, as I guess Happy is, that we are talking about a mains powered detector (in which case, as changing an accessory a MWC would be the cert of choice) - if we are talking about a smoke detector on a low voltage fire alarm system then thats a different ball game.
    GoldenArches likes this.
  17. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    He is, but he still has to comply with the regs and test his work, just as we do, and issue a certificate, again as we do - for your protection he also needs electrical works on his insurance.
  18. Wayners

    Wayners Screwfix Select

    For f bla..

    Stick screwdriver in and slide it out. Slide another in and if it takes more than 30 seconds it's stinging job out.
    Your not touching electrical parts or wires. It's a serviceable part.
    Are people saying you need to go on a course and have insurance to slide out a smoke detector and slide on a new one on or slide out one to change backup 9v battery.

    If you can't find same one and need to wire a new backing plate then yes. Sparks needs to do it but it's no different to changing a light bulb is it. Gee.
  19. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    Agreed, if the same model is being used, why even pay the handyman - just slot it on!
    Wayners likes this.
  20. sparko69

    sparko69 Screwfix Select

    When you change a light bulb you can see if the job has been done because the light bulb is on or off. Smoke detectors aren't quite the same and require a bit more technical knowledge to be able to replace one. You also don't need to take an earth loop reading for a changed light bulb but you do need an earth loop reading for a replacement smoke detector. There is also the issue of someone who is not competent actually disabling the rest of the smoke detectors while they are trying to replace one. The consequences of a fire detection system not working are potentially too dangerous and so it's best to get someone who is fully competent to replace the detector. It's definitely not the same as changing a light bulb.

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