Compulsory smoke alarms from 2015

Only two per cent of French homes have smoke alarms

New law requires every home in France to fit a smoke detector within the next five years

A LAW requiring every home in France to be equipped with a smoke alarm has been passed, five years after it was first discussed.

The responsibility for buying the alarm and regularly checking it falls on the person living in the home, except in holiday homes and furnished flats where it is the landlord's job.

Occupants who fail to equip their home with smoke alarms by 2015 will be charged a €5,000 excess on their insurance in the event of a fire.

UMP deputy Damien Meslot, who has been campaigning for the law since 2005, said: "Smoke alarms will save the lives of hundreds of people every year."

A law to make them compulsory was passed last year but was ruled unconstitutional.

The revised version was backed by the majority of MPs except the Communist party, which argued the responsibility should always fall with the landlord and not the tenant.

About 800 people die in house fires in France every year, and only 2% of homes have alarms. This compares with 98% in Norway and 89% in the UK, where they have been a legal requirement since 1997.

The reliability of smoke alarms was questioned last year by consumer magazine 60 Millions des Consommateurs. It found six of the eight most popular smoke alarms in France failed to detect fires or detected them too late.

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