Waking watch services (24-hour fire patrols), introduced after the Grenfell Tower fire by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), are costing leaseholders thousands of pounds.
The introduction of waking watches accompanied a change in NFCC guidance regarding the evacuation strategy in the event of a fire, from ‘stay put’ to ‘simultaneous evacuation’. They were intended as a temporary security measure for residents of high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding systems until remediation work could be completed.
However, many buildings have now had a waking watch service in place for years, with leaseholders forced to pay thousands of pounds each for this service.
Waking Watch Relief Fund
The Government has announced a new £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund to help pay for the installation of fire alarms and remove the need for a Waking Watch. This is in line with the most recent NFCC Guidance (October 2020), which emphasises the need to consider the installation of common fire alarms where interim measures are now in place, or are likely to be for the longer term.
Although a welcome development, the Fund is not large enough to cover the estimated 1000 buildings that currently have waking watches in place, which means that many leaseholders will still face large bills for interim safety measures.
Which buildings are eligible for the Waking Watch Relief Fund?
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 where the Registered Provider can provide evidence that waking watch costs have been passed to leaseholders, and that the costs of installing an alarm will fall on leaseholders, will also be eligible.
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