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Dorset Fire and Rescue Service is advising people who have received a smoke alarm free of charge as part of a home fire safety visit - NOT to contact them to replace batteries or for faults with the detectors they have been given.
The Service is sending letters to more than 20,000 home owner/occupiers this week (beginning Monday 06 December, 2010) who have received a home fire safety check in the last few years and had alarms fitted.
The letter clearly explains that any alarm fitted free of charge by the Service during their home safety visit automatically becomes the responsibility of the home owner/occupier.
DFRS has fitted thousands of smoke detectors in homes across the county, the initial alarms used were made by "DICON" and are now reaching the end of their serviceable life. These will need replacing by homeowners when the alarm begins to indicate the low battery warning bleep.
DFRS now fits "FireAngel' alarms which not only have a 10-year battery life but also a customer helpline number on the unit itself which people can call if they have any issues.
Community Safety Task Team Manager, Dave Myers explained:
“The Dicon alarms were purchased as part of a national Firebuy project, enabled and endorsed by the Government. However, there has been a higher than expected failure rate of these devices, and this has been acknowledged by the manufacturer. It also means that the expected battery life of 10 years is proving to be considerably less so people all over the country, including Dorset residents, who have had an alarm fitted as part of our crucial community safety work, are finding that their alarms are emitting the low battery warning beeping earlier than expected. The batteries also lose power under colder weather conditions so understandably, they are starting to beep at night.
“Although we fully understand how frustrating this is, we need to be absolutely clear that the maintenance, battery replacement and renewal of any smoke alarms fitted by Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, automatically becomes the responsibility of the home owner/occupier, or unless a repeat visit is prompted by our re-inspection programme.”
Dave added: “The Service is receiving up to 25 calls a day about beeping smoke detectors and we are urging people not to call us if they hear the low battery warning for any smoke alarms since we simply cannot come out to them. If a Dicon, or FireAngel alarm for that matter, does start to bleep (indicating low battery) it emits a single bleep approximately every minute. This does not mean it is not working, it will still activate if a fire is sensed. It simply is a prompt to either clean, or replace the detector. Hence our advice is not to take them down until you have organised a replacement or contacted the manufacturer for advice.”
We urge you not to call us for anything other than a genuine emergency where you should dial 999.
For fire safety advice please visit our website: www.dorsetfire.gov.uk OR call Freephone 0800 038 2323.