Waking Watch: Why UK Housing Associations Need It FAST

Dec 14, 2020 | Housing Associations, Landlords

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!

High density housing buildings need waking watch

High density housing buildings may need 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!

Waking Watch Warden

Waking Watch wardens, fully trained and supervised

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

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