All the information you need on waking watch, the official guidance on waking watch, and how to get one for your building.



The National Fire Chiefs Council introduced Waking Watch as a temporary measure to ensure the safety of residents by appointing trained fire wardens to monitor the exterior and interior of buildings 24/7, raise alarms in case of fire breakouts, and support the residents with safe evacuation.

Waking watch aims to ensure adequate warning is given in the event of a fire to facilitate the evacuation strategy. It is meant to be adopted for limited periods during which the underlying risks are addressed through remedial procedures to replace flammable cladding or common fire alarm systems installation

The Responsible Person for the building must ensure that the waking watch personnel fit the duties. The role of waking watch fire marshals is specific to the respective facilities; thus, the training is meant to be bespoke and tailored exactly to the needs of a specific building and its residents.

Why do we need Waking Watch?

The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire brought attention to the combustible cladding present in buildings that lead to uncontrollable fire spread across floors. Aluminium Combustible Cladding was found in the Grenfell building and different types of cladding were also studied following this tragedy to determine their fire risk.

According to the NFCC, buildings with combustible cladding and dangerous exterior wall systems are required to make a temporary change to simultaneous evacuation from the stay-put strategy to manage fire risk effectively.

A waking watch or installation of a fire alarm is necessary to enable simultaneous evacuation. In the absence of a fire alarm, a waking watch is required to alert the residents and assist in the evacuation strategy. It is meant for shorter periods while cladding remediation and fire alarm system installation occur.

What is the official guidance on waking watch?

The Grenfell Tower fire proved that no central guidance on consistently implementing a waking watch had existed, and this need had to be met urgently. Responsible Persons had to be supported to carry out measures efficiently.

Addressing this need, the NFCC produced guidance by assembling professionals from the industry – namely The Government’s Independent Expert Advisory Panel, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Fire Industry Association, Institution of Fire Engineers, Fire Brigades Union, OPTIVO, Association of Residential Managing Agents, London Councils, Local Government Association, Home Office, and London Fire Brigade.

The National Fire Chiefs Council introduced Waking Watch as a temporary measure to ensure the safety of residents by appointing trained fire wardens to monitor the exterior and interior of buildings 24/7, raise alarms in case of fire breakouts, and support the residents with safe evacuation. A waking watch is required in high-rise buildings with combustible cladding and no common fire alarm systems.

The guidance on simultaneous evacuation can be found here.

How to remove the waking watch from a building

Simultaneous evacuation requires a waking watch or a common fire alarm. So, the proper installation of a common fire alarm system removes the need for a waking watch.

V-Fire is more effective than a waking watch as it is affordable, available for rent, wireless, and easy to install. Not to mention, investing in the V-Fire system is a long-term fire solution. The common fire alarm can be used for the evacuation even in the future after the cladding is removed and remediation is complete.

Find out more about our V-Fire common alarm system here.

How to choose a waking watch supplier

Choosing a reputable and responsible company for waking watch service is vital as proper training is crucial in fire safety. Read more from a Which? Report on the various unfortunate situations leaseholders encounter with unprofessional waking watch wardens. The size of a company and years of service in the industry are good indicators of professionalism and efficiency.

Accreditations are indicators of high-quality performance and excellence, no matter the industry. The more accreditations, the more reliable the company is likely to be.

Most waking watch fire marshals are provided by security companies. When selecting a security company for waking watch, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) accreditation is an excellent indicator of expertise. Widespread reach across the nation and client testimonials also set professionals apart.

Waking watch costs are expensive as cladding removal work can be time-consuming. According to research conducted by The Ministry of Housing in 2020, the expense of employing a waking watch marshal 24 hours a day goes beyond the average cost of fire alarm installation between three and six months.

With the increase in the UK inflation rate and corresponding hikes in National Living Wages and National Insurance, security personnel who work full time will see an increase in their annual wages. Most buildings require multiple people to undertake the duties of a waking watch. Data states that the average monthly cost for Waking Watch services in purpose-built blocks exceeds £500 per calendar month.

As per the UK Government’s report on the cost of Waking Watch Fire Wardens, the prices range from £12 to £30 per hour. You can find the original report here. However, as this report was published before the current inflation rate and other related cost increases in the UK, the rates for waking watch costs are now noticeably higher than when the report was produced.

What will waking watch fire marshals do?

Waking watch fire marshals are responsible for patrolling the buildings 24/7. The patrolling takes place on all floors of high-rise buildings to ensure the safety of all residents. If a fire breaks out, the waking watch marshals will notify the emergency services, warn everyone in the building, and manage the evacuation following a predetermined plan.

According to the Fire Protection Association, the duties of the marshals include ensuring everyone safely evacuates the building and searching the premises to make sure no resident is left behind. Additional responsibilities would supporting the responsible person with emergency procedures, assisting fire evacuation drills, helping residents with mobility issues, and supporting general health and safety.

For information on waking watch, V-Fire common fire alarm system, or building fire safety, get in touch with us today on 0345 88 88 333 or by clicking the button below to email us.