PLANS to introduce mandatory home fire safety devices across Dumbarton and the Vale should be delayed by 18 months, councillors have pleaded – because the public is unaware of new rules.

New fire safety protections are to come into force from February requiring smoke and heat alarms to be interlinked.

Every property in Scotland will have to have carbon monoxide alarms by the same deadline.

The measures follow wide-ranging reviews after 71 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

But members of West Dunbartonshire Council have heard that many residents still aren’t aware of the new rules ­– and that some might not be able to immediately afford to meet them.

Yet the council’s leader warned lives would be at risk if the regulations were delayed further.

A motion by Labour councillor David McBride stated that an average three-bedroom home would need five interlinked alarms – three smoke alarms, a heat alarm and a carbon monoxide detector – at an estimated cost of £220.

Cllr McBride’s motion asked the council to note “that there is a high degree of uncertainty and anxiety regarding the availability of skilled trades and equipment and about ensuring that the fire safety equipment gets installed by the prescribed deadline, especially as failure to do so could invalidate house insurance”.

Council leader Jonathan McColl said the safety regulations had already been delayed by 12 months and “it is imperative that there are no further delays, which risk the lives of our citizens”.

He said the council could look to match-fund any assistance to households and to run an information campaign.

Councillor McColl said the council should not “waste our time” writing to the government, and said the “safer option is to go with the timescales that are in place”.

Councillor Caroline McAllister (Alba Party, Leven) suggested an 18 month delay instead of Labour’s one year proposal.

She said: “We have been in a pandemic for close on to 20 months. Our lives are not as we knew it, so I don’t think people have tuned into awareness campaigns.”

Councillors voted by 11 to eight in favour of the Labour motion.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This legislation was introduced to protect lives and property following the tragic Grenfell fire, ensuring that all homes meet the same fire safety standards that we already have in new build properties and the private rental sector.

“The new rules allow flexibility for home owners unable to install alarms by February 1. No-one will be criminalised if they need more time and there are no penalties for non-compliance.

“However, we would encourage everyone to install these alarms, and we ran a national TV, radio and digital campaign this summer to ensure people across Scotland know the legislation is coming.

“Homeowners are generally responsible for paying for works to protect their property, but we know some may not be able to meet the cost of fitting these alarms.

“That is why we have provided £500,000 through Care and Repair Scotland to help disabled and older people install the alarms in their homes. This is in addition to the £1 million we have provided to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to install alarms in owner-occupied homes identified as being at highest risk.”