The recent fire at a Premier Inn in Bristol which ravaged the building, causing it to partially collapse on to a dual carriageway, should heighten hotel owners (both independents and chains) as to the importance of fire safety in their premises. Fortunately, there were no fatalities as a result of this fire. However, last year, sadly a fire at Cameron House Hotel in West Dunbartonshire resulted in the death of two guests.
With hundreds of guests and staff, and dozens of potential fire risks, fire safety is an extremely high priority for hotels. The Fire Safety Order (FSO) sets out a number of regulations and guidelines that all businesses and building owners have to comply with to ensure the safety of property and people.
Hotel owners need to identify and reduce the fire risks associated with specific buildings. So, there isn’t a specific hotel checklist to follow to comply with fire safety regulations.
To help hotel owners to meet their fire safety responsibilities, we have developed this checklist covering what you need to include in your Emergency Plan to comply with the FSO.
The starting point for any fire safety plan is a comprehensive risk assessment.
The risk assessment should identify fire hazards and rate them in terms of high, moderate and low-risk. For instance, a hotel kitchen would be considered a high-risk area, as would a chemical storeroom. At-risk persons should also be identified, such as the occupants of family rooms, or disabled members of staff. For each risk you identify, a plan should be put in place to eliminate (if possible), reduce and protect people from that risk.
If a fire cannot be prevented, steps should be put in place to detect one as soon as possible and to warn people in your hotel that there a fire has started. For a hotel, a detection and warning system should be a network of smoke detectors linked to clear alarms in all occupied areas of the building, including individual hotel rooms. Many hotels choose to link their alarm directly to the local fire brigade so that immediate notification can be given.
Every floor should have an appropriate number of fire doors, with clearly marked escape routes from all points.
High-risk areas should have correspondingly fast escape routes to enable quick evacuation. Fire exits should lead to a safe point outside the building. Areas at risk of fire should also have heavy, fireproof doors which can be closed after evacuation to prevent the spread of fire.
Signage to indicate which doors are fire doors, directions to fire exits and meeting points are also vitally important.
When a fire is detected, it is best practice to shut down non-essential systems that could be damaged by fire or make one worse. In some cases, the fire may cause the electrics in the building to fail. It is the hotel owner’s responsibility to ensure that there is sufficient emergency lighting so that emergency routes and fire exits are adequately lit. This is especially important in areas where there is little or no natural light, such hotel corridors.
A fire safety plan should include areas outside your hotel sufficient to accommodate all the building’s occupants, safely removed from any hazard (such as oncoming traffic, smoke, falling glass etc). These will be your muster points where people will congregate when the fire alarm sounds.
Depending on the size of your establishment and number of guests you may need multiple muster points. For a small hotel it may be sufficient to have just two; one for guests and one for staff.
For every 200m² of floor space you should provide a water (red) fire extinguisher.
Additional firefighting equipment should be supplied at other relevant points. For instance, if cooking oil (Class F) fires are a risk in your kitchen, you should install wet chemical (yellow) fire extinguishers.
Carbon dioxide (black) or powder (blue) fire extinguishers should be provided where there is a risk of electric or gas fire. You may also have to include supplementary equipment, such as fire blankets in the vicinity of the fire hazards, particularly in a kitchen.
All staff should be trained in fire safety procedures, including how to raise an alarm, how to fight fires, and how to evacuate the building. A ‘Competent Persons or Persons’ should be appointed as Fire Safety Officers with specific responsibilities.
Some should be responsible for evacuating guests, others for securing the building and closing down at the electrics, others for taking a roll call at the muster points, and so on. Regular fire drills and training sessions should be carried out with duty managers so that all staff are clear on what to do in the event of a fire.
Fire action notices should be clearly displayed so staff and visitors understand what action to take in the event that a fire is discovered, these are usually located adjacent to Manual Call Points and in each hotel room.
All fire escape routes should have adequate signage showing the escape route via the shortest available route.
The outcome of the risk assessment and planning process should be an Emergency Fire Plan. This should be published as a hard copy and made available to all staff and on your hotel intranet. It should also be made available to staff as part of their new starter induction. You will also need to retain this plan for examination by the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) if you have a fire safety inspection.
You must ensure all existing equipment is kept in working order and checked at regular intervals by a competent person, one way of achieving this is by using a third party accredited company, like Hartson Fire, to carry out these checks.
The safety of a hotel’s staff and guests depends on taking quick action when a fire occurs. Complying with fire safety regulations also prevents hotel owners being subject to Enforcement and Prohibition Notices for failing to take the necessary steps.
Hartson Fire is a leading provider of fire safety equipment and signage as well as offering a maintenance and servicing service to a variety of industries including hotels.
To find our more, visit our website at www.hartsonefire.co.uk or call us today on the number below: