What does branding have to do with fire safety?

OK so we all know it’s compulsary to have smoke alarms installed on every floor within a rental property (and in every living room in HMO’s). We also know that if you have a solid fuel burning appliance you need to have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm.

Fortunately there are loads of places you can buy these, anywhere from hardware stores to supermarkets, you can also pick them up online. While some are really expensive at £100+ others are very cheap at £5 or less, but most are around the same sort of price £10 – £20 for a smoke alarm and £15 – £25 for a CO alarm. Not really that expensive for something that saves lives and that you only have to replace every 5-10 years. 

Generally the only time you expect your alarm to stop working is when the battery dies (or somebody removes the battery because it started making that irritating beep noise that tells you it needs replacing!)

But recently I’ve read a couple of reports from Which? identifying alarms that just don’t work and would be fairly useless in a fire or with a carbon monoxide leak. The smoke alarm report is here and the CO report here.

A couple of brands come up as best buys in both reports (Nest and FireAngel) but there isn’t the same consistency in the don’t buys.

So what does branding have to do with fire safety? Well while high prices and known brand names don’t guarantee an alarms quality, suspiciously low prices and no branding at all are definite warning signs.