As reported last week via IFSEC Global, the UK Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick, has announced the £30m Waking Watch Relief Fund launched in December 2020 is now open for applications (as from 31st January). The fund has been set up to enable the installation of fire detection systems as an interim safety measure and allow Waking Watches to be removed.
To be eligible a building must:
- Be in the private sector.
- Be over 18 metres in height.
- Have an unsafe cladding system.
- Have a waking watch in place where these costs have been passed on to leaseholders.
- Social sector buildings that can provide evidence of waking watch costs that have been passed on to leaseholders may also be eligible
In research undertaken between June to September 2020, the costs of employing a person to carry out Waking Watch duties 24 hours a day exceeds the average one-off cost of installing a fire alarm system in three to six months, depending on the hourly rate charged.
On 31st January 2021 it was announced the fund was now open for applications from the Responsible Person (RP) – the person, entity or group responsible for ensuring the safety of residents in their building from fire and identifying suitable mitigating measures where needed. RPs are being encouraged to speak to their local Fire and Rescue Service about the implications of installing a common fire alarm in their building.
The fund will cover the upfront capital costs of installing an alarm system. The common fire alarm system should generally be designed in accordance with the recommendations of BS 5839-1 for a Category L5 system (See Point 10 of the Waking Watch Relief Full Application Guidance).
It is also advised that “consideration should be given to installing an alarm specified to allow upgrade to a BS8629 Emergency Evacuation Alert System once remediation is completed”. This will allow the alarm system to be converted for the use of an evacuation alert system which is compatible with the ‘Stay Put’ strategy, and “reasonable costs of installing these alarms may be covered by the fund”.
It should be noted, the fund will cover the costs of fire alarms installed after 17 December 2020.
A fire detection and fire alarm system should be designed, installed and commissioned by an appropriately qualified, third-party certificated competent organisation such as an NSI Fire Gold or Silver approved company who are also BAFE registered. They are ably qualified to design, install and commission a Category L5 system in accordance with the recommendations of BS 5839-1 and in accordance with the standards referred to in the Simultaneous Evacuation Guidance published in October 2020. NSI’s Evacuation Alert Systems Gold approved companies are also competent to install Evacuation Alert Systems to BS 8629:2019.