LOCAL fire chiefs are backing calls for a change in the law to make it mandatory to install smoke alarms in all rented property.

They fear more deaths will follow unless legislation is changed.

Out of 50 people killed in house fires in West Yorkshire over the past five years, 48 were in rented accommodation.

Now a move to bring in new laws is being led by Adrian Sanders, Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay, who is proposing a Private Members’ Bill which would require all rented properties to have working, hard-wired smoke detection and warning systems at the beginning of any tenancy agreement.

It is due for a second reading in October but so far it has received a lukewarm response from Government, which regards it as unnecessary new regulation.

Clr Judith Hughes, who chairs West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority’s Finance and Resources Committee, insisted that local experience underlined that lives could be saved.

“Alarms are not the only solution in the fire safety armoury but they are critical in providing early warning.

“We intend to lobby all our local MPs in the run-up to autumn in the hope that they will back the bill.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Craig McIntosh said that there was a compelling financial as well as moral argument for smoke alarms.

Using the Government’s own calculations, West Yorkshire’s domestic fire deaths, injuries and property loss cost society £250m over the last five years. Most of this was entirely preventable.

A brigade spokesman added: “We have a situation where it is compulsory to have carbon monoxide alarms but not smoke alarms, even though fires cause more deaths.

“Our concern is also that people do have smoke alarms but do not always ensure they are working.

“We do 60,000 home safety checks a year and many find alarms that are not work.

“We support the campaign as it is not right that people in rented accommodation do not have the same protection as people in private housing”.