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Fire & Life Safety in the Hospitality Industry


Fire and life safety are important considerations in any industry or business, but in few sectors is it more important than in hospitality and, specifically, hotels.

Every year, fire departments in the United States respond to more than 3,500 structure fires in hotels or motels – resulting in an average of 120 civilian injuries and 9 civilian deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Hotels are unique in that they are often occupied 24 hours a day, with guests asleep for much of that time. Additionally, those staying are likely unfamiliar with the floorplan of the hotel, and so should a fire occur, they may not immediately know how to find their way outside and to safety.

Fortunately, there are steps all hotel managers can take to help keep their staff and guests safe in case of a fire emergency.

Have the Right Equipment

iStock-161859588When it comes to fire and life safety, having the right equipment in place to warn of a fire and to provide protection is critical. This includes fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and more.

In a hotel, there are special considerations, because so many of those present in an emergency may be asleep and unaware of where the exits are. Because of this, there should ideally be fire alarms in every hotel room, and fire extinguishers should be properly spaced per NFPA guidelines. Adequate emergency lighting – such as light-up exit signs – is a must, so that guests can easily find exits even in a dark, smoky environment. Maps of the hotel with exits marked should also be placed in each room for reference by guests. Hotels should include alarm systems that are considerate of those with hearing and visual impairments, so that even guests who cannot hear or see are still alerted to the emergency.

The type of fire suppression or sprinkler system you need may vary depending on what part of the hotel it’s in. For example, your kitchen area may require a different type or system than a guest room. Fire and life safety experts like those at CertaSite can help determine which system is best for each hotel’s unique needs, or even incorporate different types of systems across one hotel.

Conduct Drills & Train Employees

Fire drills aren’t just for schools – they’re essential for any business, including hotels.

Every employee at a hotel should know exactly what to do in case of a fire emergency. Employees should understand their responsibilities in getting guests out safely, how to use all fire extinguishers, where manual fire alarm pulls are, where all of the emergency exits are and which ones to use from what locations, and basic fire and life safety protocols. Staff should also all know who to call in case of a fire emergency, and what procedures to follow to notify local emergency responders.

Fire drills should be done at least semi-annually, but ideally more often. Practice at different times in the day and when staff are working in different areas of the hotel, so they know what to do in various situations.

By practicing ahead of time, everyone will know exactly what their role is and where to go if an emergency does happen.

Get Regular Inspections & Fix Deficiencies

Of course, having the right equipment in place and practicing drills won’t matter if the alarms or sprinklers don’t go off during an emergency. For this reason, conducting regular testing is essential.

Each smoke detector should be tested at least once a month to make sure that it’s working. If it’s not, it must be addressed immediately and corrected. No guests should be boarded in a room without a working smoke detector.

Fire extinguishers, alarm systems, sprinklers and emergency lighting also need to be checked on a regular schedule, though the timing will vary based on the types of equipment and systems used. Generally, fire extinguishers should be checked once a month with professional inspection at least once a year. Sprinkler systems often require quarterly inspections and annual testing, though it will depend what type of system you have in place.

Once inspections are completed, deficiencies should be fixed as soon as possible to make sure that guests and staff are kept safe, and the hotel is in compliance with NFPA standards.

For more information about hotel and motel safety, check out this NFPA safety tip sheet.

At CertaSite, we know that the idea of maintaining an inspection schedule can be daunting, which is why we’d love to do it for you. When you work with a preferred fire protection and life safety company like us, we can handle all your fire and life safety needs, from system selection and installation, to inspections, maintenance and replacements. We can also provide onsite training when it comes to fire extinguishers, how to check emergency and exit lights, and more.

Tags: preferred protection, fire safety, safety training, building safety, education