This summary, taken from gov.uk, explains the new £30 million fund to pay for the costs of installing an alarm system in buildings with unsafe cladding.
Common alarms systems will enable costly Waking Watch measures to be replaced in buildings waiting to have unsafe cladding removed.
The fund builds on recently updated guidance published by the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) on buildings that change from a ‘Stay Put’ to a ‘Simultaneous Evacuation’ fire safety strategy.
Whilst waking watch, when established and operated in accordance with NFCC guidance, is an acceptable risk mitigation strategy, the guidance is clear alarms are preferable on the grounds of both safety and cost efficiency.
Who will benefit?
Leaseholders who may have faced high costs for interim safety measures by providing financial support and delivering a better, long term fire safety system in their buildings.
Swift remediation of unsafe cladding, for which the government has provided £1.6 billion, remains the priority and this fund should not be considered as a substitute.
Which buildings will be eligible?
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 of BS 5839-1 for a Category L5 system, which is referred to in the NFCC’s revised guidance on simultaneous evacuation.
To be eligible a building must:
- be in the private sector
- be over 18 metres in height
- have an unsafe cladding system
- have a waking watch in place where these costs have been passed on to leaseholders
Social sector buildings where the Registered Provider can evidence that waking watch costs have been passed to leaseholders and the costs of installing an alarm will fall on leaseholders will also be eligible.
Will retrospective costs be considered?
The fund will cover the cost of alarms installed on or after 17 December 2020.
This is to ensure it incentivises buildings to install a common alarm system and to reduce the dependency on Waking Watch.
Who is responsible for applying for the fund?
Responsibility for applying to the fund will rest with the Responsible Person (RP).
Under the Fire Safety Order, the RP is the entity responsible for ensuring the safety of residents in their building from fire and assess the risk and identify suitable mitigating measures where they are needed.
The RP should already have the information they need on which they can consider their eligibility.
We encourage RPs to speak to their local Fire and Rescue Service about the implications of installing a common alarm in their building and to keep leaseholders informed of their intentions.
When will the fund open?
We plan to open the fund in January with the aim of providing funding for the installation of alarms as quickly as possible.
We will work with local authorities and Fire and Rescue Services on the delivery of the fund and will publish a prospectus with further information on any additional eligibility criteria and evidence requirements as soon as possible.
We encourage Responsible Persons who meet the basic eligibility criteria not to delay and to start considering what information they are likely to need in order to make an application.
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