Waking watches were introduced by the National Fire Chiefs Council as a temporary measure to keep residents safe and involve trained fire wardens being present on site 24/7 to monitor the building’s interior and exterior, raise an alarm in the event of a fire and assist in the safe evacuation of the residents.
Three years after the Grenfell Tower fire, hundreds of buildings across the UK still have 24-hour safety patrols in place, costing building owners tens of thousands of pounds every month. In some instances the majority of these costs are being passed on to the leaseholders. But recent updated guidance from the Council now advises that building owners should move to install common fire alarm systems as quickly as possible to reduce or remove the need for the 24-hour warden patrols.
According to a recent study by The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, the cost of employing one person/individual undertaking Waking Watch duties exceeds the average cost of installing an alarm system in 3 to 7 months, depending on the hourly rate charged.
On 17th December the UK government announced a new £30m fund to help pay for the installation of fire alarms in high-rise buildings with dangerous cladding, the Waking Watch Relief Fund, and also urged building owners to apply for the government’s £1bn Building Safety Fund (BSF) as soon as possible.
The BSF was set up in May 2020 to pay for the removal and replacement of unsafe, non-ACM combustible cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings in England that are 18 metres or higher.
The deadline for building owners to complete their BSF applications by has just recently been granted a six-month extension, with a new deadline for submissions of 30th June 2021.
The recommendation for using a hybrid wireless fire detection system, installed as a temporary solution in this scenario has many benefits to both the building owner and residents:
▸ No cabling required, easy and quick to install, with minimum disruption to residents
▸ Operates on a robust, fast response intelligent radio link
▸ Offers 24/7 monitoring and reporting
▸ Can be maintained from one location within the building, via a fire control panel
▸ Doesn’t affect the fire compartmentation of the individual flats
▸ Easy to uninstall once cladding removed, with no damage to building structure...
▸ ...or can be left in-situ and expanded upon with a mixture of wired and wireless devices to provide further protection
▸ One off investment plus small maintenance costs
▸ On site staff kept to a minimum.
Ekho is a hybrid wireless based family of products which can be fully integrated into Hochiki’s renowned ESP intelligent hardwired system. At the core of the system is the hybrid wireless Translator module. It is hard-wired to the fire alarm control panel loop and communicates continuously with the hybrid wireless devices.
Hybrid wireless Expander modules are used to extend the radio mesh network, increasing the reach and capacity of the overall system. Ekho is the next generation of hybrid wireless fire detection from Hochiki.
If you are responsible for any high-rise building that has been identified as having a potential dangerous cladding issue, you will in the first instance need to make an application to the Building Safety Fund to have the cladding removed and replaced, click here for further details.
You should now also apply for the Waking Watch Relief Fund from the UK Government to help pay for the installation costs of a temporary fire detection system, such as Hochiki’s Ekho system.
For over 100 years Hochiki has led the way in the design and manufacturer of innovative life safety solutions. Its leading edge commercial and industrial life safety systems and products have acquired global acceptance as the benchmark for high-integrity and long-term reliability.
Hochiki’s expertise in fire detection can help you make an informed choice on the options open to you. We will work directly with you alongside one of our preferred installation partners to quickly provide, design, install and maintain a temporary hybrid wireless Ekho fire detection system, specifically designed to protect your building and its occupants from a cladding fire whilst waiting for remedial work to commence.