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Beware of smoke detector con

Homeowners warned that criminals are taking advantage of new law to try to gain access to their properties

CRIMINALS are trying to take advantage of the new law on smoke detectors in France by contacting homeowners to try to obtain access to their properties by claiming that they need to check the standard of installation.

Although it will become mandatory for homes to have at least one functioning smoke detector installed after March 8, no organisation has been authorised to inspect properties. Anyone who calls to make an appointment, either by telephone or door-to-door should be referred to the police.

Smoke alarms are readily available in major supermarkets and DIY stores. There is no legal requirement for them to be fitted by an electrician.

In the case of rented properties, the law says that a landlord is responsible for buying the smoke alarm, or should reimburse the cost of purchase to the tenant. Long-term tenants will be responsible for the upkeep of alarms, including renewing batteries when necessary. For holiday or short-term rentals, this responsibility falls to the owners.

Householders should also inform their insurers that a smoke alarm has been installed. A brief letter, stating your policy number and address, declaring that you have fitted a smoke alarm that conforms to the NF EN 14 604 standard should be enough to ensure any claims for fire damage after March 8 are dealt with relatively quickly and easily.

Any smoke detector fitted in a home in France must meet the following standards:

Alarms have to meet the EN 14604 European standard and carry the CE logo or the NF EN 14604 equivalent. Consumer watchdog UFC-Que Choisir strongly suggests that buyers opt for alarms with the NF mark, as French standards are higher

It must display a power indicator and have a “test” button

The unit should be powered by batteries, with a minimum operating time of one year, or come with an AC-power cable

The unit must emit a visual or audible signal indicating low battery levels. The error signal must be different to the alarm signal

When smoke is detected, the unit must emit an audible alarm of at least 85dB audible at a distance of three metres

The following information must be indelibly marked on the unit: the brand name, address of the manufacturer or supplier number, date of the standard that the detector complies with, manufacturing date or batch number and type of battery to use

The unit should be supplied with instructions for installation, maintenance and control of the sensor and the model certificate that the occupant must provide an insurer in case of a claim for damage caused by fire.

Photo: Kenneth Lu

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