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Fire Safety in Hotels – Plan Your Escape

It’s officially June, the start of the holiday season. Hotels across the country will soon start filling up. The thought of all those sleeping guests in one building has got our alarm bells ringing. With so many guests and staff members it’s particularly difficult for hotels to alert and evacuate everybody safely. So before the guests start pouring in, now’s the time to make sure your hotel’s evacuation plan is up to scratch.

A hotel is like a box chocolates…

…You never know which guests you’re gonna get. This means that your escape plan has to cater for everybody! Hotel Consider the safety of:
  • Unaccompanied children
  • People with disabilities
  • Sleeping guests
  • People who are unfamiliar with the hotel
  • Intoxicated individuals
  • Highly medicated guests
  • People near your building
  • Members of staff
  • Isolated guests and members of staff
  • People who have panic attacks

Your hotel layout

The layout of your hotel should ensure that everybody can safely evacuate a building when there’s a fire. Having a large number of guests means that greater measures will need to be taken to slow the spread of fire so that everybody has the time to escape. Many hotels have a compartmentalisation system. This is where people evacuate horizontally to a different part of the building which is protected. The length of time it will take different guests to escape should be reflected in the order of rooms. For instance, you wouldn’t put family suites or rooms specially designed for disabled people on the top floor. It’s also worth bearing in mind that smoke caused by a burning building will be thick and black, making it difficult for people to see and escape.

Fire detection and warnings systems

The problem with hotels is that they’re large, which means you need to install a complex system that ensures all guests will be alerted if a fire occurs. You will need to install a combination of sounders, smoke detectors, heat detectors and manual call points. These devices can be interlinked. By linking alarms, you can ensure that if one detector sounds, they will all sound. You will need to install at least one alarm in every room. Vibrating alarms can be placed under the pillow of hearing impaired guests, so they too will be alerted when there’s a fire. To read more about catering for disabled people click here. You will need to link all devices to a control panel. The control panel will help you identify where the fire was detected.

Guide evacuation with fire marshals

The problem with having lots of guests who come and go is that they won’t know how to respond to an alarm, or where there nearest exits are. This is even more problematic if guests were asleep then the alarm went off. To help guide guests out of the building, you should ask trusted members of staff to be fire marshals. They can receive formal training on how to respond to a fire and help people out of the building. If there are disabled people who need assistance, trained fire marshals can help with this too. Find out more about training a fire marshal here.

Phased evacuation of guests

If thousands of guests are told to evacuate the building at one time, there will be a stampede! Either that or a traffic jam. One solution is to opt for an alarm that allows for phased evacuation. You can program alarms to activate in a set sequence (depending on where the fire is detected). You can also set voice alarms to trigger the actions that need to be taken. This means that you can evacuate people at greater risk first, and those at lesser risk later. This is also a good way to provide guidance for people who are unfamiliar with your building and exit routes.

Fire escape signs

You should ensure that your hotel is complete with emergency exit signs. To meet British Standards, emergency exit signs should have an image of a man running through a door, along with an arrow. If there’s more than one exit route, give directions for the shortest route. If they are within equal distance, each route should be clearly marked with a separate set of signs. Make sure that at least one emergency exit sign is always visible, wherever somebody is standing. This may mean placing it midway down a corridor.

Government guidelines

The government provide guidelines specifically created for owners of sleeping accommodation. This is a good guide to follow, as it will help you understand legal requirements and how they apply to you. photo credit: ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd. via photopin cc
  • Written by: Alex

    Great article, fire safety is very important and as long as everyone is aware of the procedures that need to be taken then they will be in a safe and secure environment.

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