The Grenfell tragedy turned a spotlight on fire safety in high density housing like never before. Even in blocks without external cladding, the plans we thought would keep people safe were shown to be flawed, with terrible consequences.
Recommendations have been made for building new projects. New legislation will be put in place. But what about existing developments?
Whether your building is high or low rise, there are steps that Responsible Persons need to take now. The first is to think about Waking Watch!
What is Waking Watch?
A ‘waking watch’ or ‘watching brief’ is a system where a person(s) is required to monitor the whole or part of the building for signs of fire at all material times.
Essentially it’s a human fire security guard for your residents. A trained and supervised person or team that provides a life-saving early warning system.
It’s not just about cladding
Waking Watches are often initiated when serious fire safety issues are found and there is little or no time to do much pre-work.
Residential landlords are suddenly required to find a trustworthy and reliable provider at very short notice.
Do I need Waking Watch for my building?
You will, if:
1 – a fire and rescue service inspection discovers a problem. Inspections can happen without notice if there have been issues raised in previous inspections (which you’ll be aware of) or if someone reports a concern (which you may not be!).
2 – any part of your fire alarm system fails.
If an inspector tells you your building isn’t safe for your stay put plan, you have a maximum of 4 hours to get Waking Watch in place or evacuate the entire building.
Imagine uprooting and rehoming all those people at such short notice. And for how long? Do you have plans in place for this? Are they Covid secure?
The logistics are a nightmare – and that’s before we start totting up the cost!
Is it fire or security? Who can I trust for Waking Watch?
As part of your fire risk assessment duties you need a contingency and Waking Watch is it. But it’s not something you can trust to anyone. You can’t simply call your Uncle Joe and ask him to stay awake all night and wander round the blocks!
You need to be sure the people doing this vital job are fully trained and supervised correctly. If a fire does break out in a residential block they’ll be evacuating families. Children, the elderly and disabled people all have specific needs to be met so you need to know the people doing the job know their stuff to keep them safe.
Does Uncle Joe have accredited Fire Marshal training? Would he know how to safely evacuate someone with poor mobility as smoke, noise and panic rises all around?
You also want to know these people are safe to have around your vulnerable residents. SIA training, and especially Approved Contractor Status, is your guarantee here. Full DBS checking gives you confidence and training in conflict resolution means even the most upset resident can be calmed in a crisis, lowering risk for everyone.
So, now you know, what’s your next step?
That’s the easy bit. Get a plan in place NOW with someone who has experience in implementing Waking Watch within 3-4 hours. Because that’s all you’ll have before a full evacuation of the building if a problem is discovered!
Our specialist will help you to put in place a stress-free plan that can be implemented immediately that it is required
What have you done to ensure your new normal ends in smiles NOT tears?
Staff worried sick. Shielded staff, even more scared. Coming out of lockdown and re-opening to the public is exciting. But frightening too.
Employers are over a barrel. Your duty of care means you MUST only reopen when your shop is safe to do so. When you have done everything reasonable to minimise the risk to staff, visitors and customers…
Or risk falling foul of Employment Law. Of ending up in a tribunal. And even… on the wrong end of a compensation claim!
“…genuinely demonstrate that they have done everything necessary to ensure a Covid-secure workplace“
Kathleen Heycock, employment partner at Farrer & Co.
Then you can insist on staff coming to work.
Great. But how? Well, these three important ways intelligent technology plays a critical role in making your shopfloor Covid-secure are a good place to begin read more…
80% Of Returning Staff Are At Work But Don’t Feel Safe – What Have You Done To Avoid A Negligence Claim?
We must be in work and at risk, or else risk our jobs
A week after non-essential shops opened, a report shows that most employers are failing to do enough to help staff feel safe. read more…
As the UK returns to work, there’s far more important things to trouble yourself with than keyholding. But… it’s an item on your to-do list.
Make the wrong keyholding choice and you will put more than a member of staff at risk…
Neglecting your duty of care may leave you open to liability claims… And that’s never welcome especially during these chaotic times.
Here are five things to consider while you mull over your keyholding decision.
Are you responsible for a public sector building or commercial site? Then you may have heard about fever cameras. And… how they could make the return to work much easier as the Covid-19 lockdown winds down.
Of course, safety concerns are paramount. Following government advice is critical…
But the military technology used with fever cameras can play a vital role in building confidence. And critically, helping returning staff feel safe. read more…
The UK’s warehouses will be completely full in just 2-3 weeks. So say the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA), who carried out a survey of 100 of their members to identify the impact of the Coronavirus. What it revealed was that 90% of available space has been used.
You might think that the current extreme conditions mean insurance companies will relax. This is NOT the case. They will enforce the rules of their terms and conditions. This means, more than ever, businesses need to be aware of the smallprint banana skin…
You might think insurance companies have a moral responsibility to help in a crisis. They DON’T.
You have signed up to a contract that lasts for a year and the T&Cs apply no matter what.
You should take some time to read your insurance policy. And pay careful attention to the smallprint. TODAY.
This post highlights some of the things to look out for. AND how to survive the lockdown without falling foul of insurance banana skins.
And the good news is… it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to fix!
There’s a sneaky threat lurking. It’s ready to strike… just when you think the crisis is over.
It’s not cash flow. Or regaining lost contracts or lost productivity. Oh no!
It’s something you will never think of. Not in a million years.
Ignore it and it could cause you downtime. And expense. Just when you’re trying to get back to normal.
Luckily, it’s easy to fix. read more…
In an emergency during lockdown, who makes the best keyholder? Professional Security Guard or member of staff?
It seems like the ideal solution. You need an authorised keyholder in case your alarm goes off. So you ask a member of staff who lives nearby to do it. If the alarm is activated, there is someone within easy reach of the premises. S/he can take the call from your monitoring station. Then go and check everything is OK.
But is it still such a good idea, especially during the lockdown? read more…
Lockdown crime, your empty business premises and scallywags… What you can do to stop your business being the next victim
Crime has dropped during the lockdown. Martin Hewitt from the National Police Chiefs’ Council reported a 21% fall in crime This is a great silver lining.
But, while it is welcome, it may conceal a hidden problem. And something else for businesses to think about at this crazy time. As if it weren’t challenging enough… read more…