A waking watch system, also known as a fire watch system, is a means of providing comprehensive fire safety precautions in situations where additional, dedicated systems are required. This could be because there is a temporary lapse in existing controls, such as a fire alarm system undergoing repairs or maintenance, or because there is a specific hazard identified which merits controls in addition to what is already in place.

These kind of hazards or ‘high alert’ situations can include where hot work is taking place, or where a high profile event is being hosted and a space and its contents require additional protection. But a common scenario has developed in recent years where high-rise residential buildings have been identified as being constructed with unsafe cladding. This is where combustible materials which do not conform to suitable building safety standards have been used in the construction of a high-rise building, and hence the residents are at high risk if the building catches fire, particularly overnight. To mitigate such occurrences, many such buildings have introduced temporary waking watch systems.

What does waking watch for unsafe cladding involve?

Where a waking watch or fire watch system has been identified as a necessity for a building with unsafe cladding, it will involve trained and qualified fire wardens patrolling a building and the surrounding areas on a 24/7 basis. This is to monitor the interior of the building on every floor, and to patrol the exterior of the building also, including the areas of cladding, but also ensuring fire exits are clear and operational.

A waking watch is required to raise the alarm in the event of fire and to assist in the evacuation of a building, but the system can also work in conjunction with existing fire procedures, and also in combination with technological systems such as fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler systems, access control systems and CCTV. Having manned security on-site, particularly overnight and out of hours, provides the building with suitable and adequate security and fire safety while the identified risk still exists.

Social housing security and waking watch systems

In many situations, the residential buildings where unsafe cladding has been identified are classified as social housing. This is a form of affordable housing across the UK where rental charges are linked to the local income. However, there are also schemes whereby social housing can provide a form of low-cost home ownership. Nevertheless, many cases of unsafe cladding have been identified in high-rise social housing schemes, and an important factor is the building owner working to resolve the issue and replace the combustible cladding as soon as possible, so that waking watch is only a temporary solution and the costs do not become prohibitive to residents.

Waking watch systems are also common where social housing projects are under construction, so manned patrols, hazard identification, manual alarm raising and site evacuation can be in place where buildings have yet to have a fire alarm system installed or the water is turned off and can’t be used in emergency situations.

Waking watch services for unsafe cladding with First Response Group

The waking watch services provided by First Response Group deliver a suitable means of fire safety and surveillance on a 24/7 basis and the assurance of a comprehensive fire safety programme in all circumstances. Our SIA-licensed fire wardens can work in tandem with your existing systems – fire risk assessments, evacuation procedures, CCTV, access control systems – to provide around-the –clock fire safety while you work to remove and replace unsafe cladding in your building.

Our highly professional employees are able to identify hazards and learn your protocols quickly to ensure your operations are not compromised and you are assured of the ultimate fire safety controls until such time that the unsafe cladding issue has been fully resolved. If you want to learn more about waking watch systems and how we apply our processes to social housing and other buildings with unsafe cladding, then contact First Response Group today.

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Team FRG
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