Why are hotels particularly at risk of fire?
Premises offering sleeping accommodation to multiple occupants are considered to be at high risk of fire, as this type of operation carries a high likelihood of carelessness and the accidental disabling of fire precautions. Hotels, hostels, B&Bs and other types of guest accommodation are particularly at risk, and it is because of this that a comprehensive fire prevention and fire safety strategy is required to keep your guests safe, and to ensure that you meet all legal requirements.
What are your legal obligations?
By law, any hotel owner or manager MUST:
- perform a fire risk assessment at least once a year (or every time there are significant building/operational changes);
- remove or reduce fire risks highlighted by the fire risk assessment;
- provide regular fire safety training to all employees;
- provide general fire precautions to deal with existing risks;
- create an action plan to use in the case of an emergency;
- keep a record of your findings, any maintenance work and training records.
To comply with fire safety laws, avoid potential prosecution and keep your guests safe, employers must meet all of these obligations.
What other specific procedures should I follow?
To make your premises safe from fire, due diligence is key and as an employer and business owner/manager, we would recommend that you implement the fire safety procedures listed below in addition to the legal requirements above:
- Evacuation procedures
The extent and nature of your evacuation procedure will depend upon the size and layout of your premises. In smaller buildings with a simple floor plan, simultaneous evacuation whereby every room and floor is evacuated at once is more common, whereas larger buildings may benefit from vertical or horizontal phased evacuation, where the areas that are most at risk (those located next to or directly above the fire) are evacuated first, and the evacuation of the other floors that are less at risk is delayed. Escape routes and fire exits should be clearly shown using fire safety signage and emergency lighting.
- Assembly points
It is important that all staff are aware of the emergency assembly points in the event of a fire. Hotels should also display a fire safety booklet or plaque with the name of the assembly point and a description or easily identifiable photo of the assembly point in rooms and common areas. This ensures that hotel guests know where to meet in the event of a fire and helps reduce confusion in the event of an emergency.
- Fire alarm and smoke detector testing
Regular maintenance of fire safety equipment is crucial to comply with fire safety law. Manual call points for fire alarms should be tested during working hours once a week, and smoke detectors should also be tested weekly. It is important to ensure that fire alarms are loud enough to wake guests (at least 75 decibels). Regular maintenance and repairs should be arranged for fire doors, emergency lighting, appliances and plug sockets to reduce the risk of faulty equipment, which can increase the fire risk.
- Emergency lighting
Emergency lighting is a vital part of your premises’ fire safety equipment. In order to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, most commercial properties are legally required to display emergency lighting throughout their premises. It uses an independent power source separate from your main power supply, ensuring that the lighting will come into effect if the main power is shut off. Emergency lights usually consist of illuminated fire exit signs above fire exit doors, and lights on the floor acting as a pathway towards emergency exits. These lights are mostly powered by LED technology making them bright and efficient.
- Fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are often the first line of defence when containing or extinguishing a fire. They can significantly diminish the damage caused by fire and are an essential piece of equipment, the use of which should be demonstrated to employees during fire safety training.
- Fire risk assessments
Fire risk assessments are designed to evaluate, remove, reduce and protect people from risk. Following a risk assessment, the assessor must record, plan, inform, instruct and train all employees and regularly review any fire risks identified. Training must be designed to educate staff on the issues and procedures that have been highlighted in the risk assessment. Risk assessments need to be carried out a competent, responsible person who has strong knowledge of fire safety and hazards.
How can we help?
To warrant that your legal obligations have been met, and to do everything you can to avoid loss of life in the event of a fire, you need to ensure that the fire safety procedures above are implemented comprehensively and by a competent individual who has the experience and knowledge to accurately assess risk and put effective measures in place to address any concerns.
Are you confident that you could successfully carry out these tasks and provide adequate training for your staff, particularly bearing in mind the increased risk for hotels and those providing accommodation?
If the answer is no, or if you’d prefer professional assistance, why not get in touch to arrange a free 15 minute healthcheck? Visit our website or call us on 02380 269 833 for free safety advice and recommendations.
At FireCare we provide fire safety training, risk assessments and equipment for our clients all over the South Coast and London. We’re based in Eastleigh, perfectly placed close to the M3 to provide a professional, proactive service for our clients throughout Dorset, Hampshire, West Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, London, Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Wiltshire.