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Government injects £18.6 million to fund common alarm system installations

05 June 2023

THE GOVERNMENT has announced a further £18.6 million to fund the installation of a common alarm system to replace ‘Waking Watch’ measures in all residential buildings where a ‘Waking Watch’ is currently in place in England, regardless of where the costs of the ‘Waking Watch’ fall.

The fund builds on the £35 million Waking Watch Relief Fund, which was focused on high-rise residential buildings (ie those above 17.7 metres) with a ‘Waking Watch’ in place (at cost to leaseholders) due to unsafe cladding, and the £27 million Waking Watch Replacement Fund 2022, which itself expanded eligibility to residential buildings of any height with a ‘Waking Watch’ in place due to any fire safety defect.

The new £18.6 million fund extends financial support to more buildings and is aligned with guidance published by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) on buildings that change from a ‘Stay Put’ to a simultaneous evacuation-focused fire safety strategy.

Application process

Applications to the new fund opened on 25 May 2023 and should use this guidance: Waking Watch Replacement Fund 2023: Full Fund Application Guidance and Application Form.

Leaseholders who may have faced high costs or delays in the implementation of interim safety measures by providing financial support and delivering a better, long-term fire safety system in their buildings will benefit.

In terms of eligibility, the fund will cover the upfront capital costs of installing an alarm system. The common fire alarm system should generally be designed in accordance with the recommendations outlined in BS 5839-1 for a Category L5 system, which is referred to in the NFCC’s revised guidance on simultaneous evacuation.

To be eligible, the building must be located in England, has to be a residential building and must have a ‘Waking Watch’ in place.

Retrospective costs

The fund will cover the cost of alarms where installation work commenced on or after 25 May 2023. It’s going to be administered centrally by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for all eligible buildings.

For those that applied to the 2021 Waking Watch Relief Fund, further information and guidance is available by accessing the Waking Watch Relief Fund Prospectus 2021.

For those that applied to the Waking Watch Replacement Fund 2022, further information and guidance documents have been provided: Waking Watch Replacement Fund 2022: Application Guidance.