The re-opening of the waking watch relief fund and additional funds through the waking watch replacement fund will bring welcome relief to some leaseholders. It will relieve them of the financial burden of the waking watch fees. The funding will also remove that emotional toll that has been weighing on them for months or years. It will also make their buildings safer in case of a fire.
However, will the waking watch funding go far enough? Will it stretch far enough to provide help and financial support to all that need it?
For example, social housing providers are unable to access the support from the fund for waking watch costs on properties where there are tenants as opposed to leaseholders. This means that the waking watch fees are taking up vital funds. These funds could be put to better use. For example, if it was invested in repairing or even maintaining existing homes. The money could also be used for or put towards the building and planning or more social housing.
Research shows that the cost of employing one person to carry out the duties of a waking watch person for 24 hours a day actually exceeds the average cost of installing a fire alarm system. The cost of the waking watch person can be matched in just three to six months by the one-off fee for a fire alarm installation. This is dependent on the hourly rate charged by the waking watch patrol person.
While the National Fire Chief Council has advised that building owners should move to install fire alarms as quickly as possible, this might not be possible. The National Fire Chief Council said building owners should install fire alarms as quickly as possible or reduce the dependence on waking watches, if this cannot be removed entirely.
Those that fall outside of the funding requirements will face excessive costs. They will need to pay the high fees of waking watch patrols. But also pay the costs to install a new fire alarm system at the same time.
However, if they don’t, they may have an inability to sell or re-mortgage the property. Leaseholders in this position have also been found to struggle with financial stress. There have also been unacceptable impacts on mental health and wellbeing for leaseholders in this position.
Here at Jensen Security and Fire Safety we will be happy to quote you for a fire alarm system. We can also help you apply for waking watch funding, if you meet the government requirements.