As a hotel owner/manager, one of your many responsibilities is to provide a safe experience for your guests and a safe working environment for your staff, including fire safety. One way of keeping track of all the fire safety elements of your premises and ensuring your guests and staff stay safe is by having a fire risk assessment. In this article, we explain the reasons why hotels require fire risk assessments.
When we conduct a fire risk assessment at premises offering sleeping accommodation, there are several factors to consider, some of which are quite specific to hotels/B&B accommodation.
When considering fire safety for your guests, one of the key elements that make offering accommodation unique is that they are not familiar with the design of the premises. Consequently, guests will require help if they need to evacuate to find the quickest route out with enough time to make the journey safely.
Whether they are staying with you for business or leisure, your guests will be spending their time sleeping at some point. While they are asleep, not only do you need to ensure that the fire alarm will wake them, but also that they know what to do and where to go if the alarm does sound. Being woken by an alarm can be both disorientating and frightening. Guests will need time to be fully alert to what is happening before they will start to take steps to evacuate.
If you have a large hotel, you may require night staff responsible for ensuring all occupants evacuate safely. Staff training in what they need to do in the event of a fire is key. Knowledge, understanding and regular practice will give your staff the confidence to instruct and assist guests during an evacuation.
Guest Information Packs
Ensuring that your guest information packs include details of your fire procedures and that you have clear signage throughout the hotel will aid them when making the evacuation journey, especially during the night. Signage and emergency lights are particularly important if there is a rapid spread of smoke or the electricity cuts off. If you know that you have guests or staff whose first language isn’t English, it may be worth considering having pictorial signage and translation into additional languages.
Have you also considered the differing assistance needs of guests? For example, guests with hearing, visual or mobility impairments, sensory issues or even people under the influence of alcohol or medication. Having a GEEP (General or Generic Emergency Evacuation Plan) in place will ensure that your staff know what to do if a guest requires additional assistance to evacuate. It will also give your guests peace of mind knowing they will be looked after. This may also impact the type of alarm system you have, as persons with hearing impairments might require alternative arrangements for alerting them to the danger, either linked to the alarm or part of the evacuation procedures related to staff training.
Although we all know that smoking in enclosed public spaces (including hotel rooms) in the UK was banned many years ago, it isn’t unheard of for hotel guests to have a crafty smoke in their room. By ensuring you have the right level of smoke detection in all areas of the hotel, including guest bedrooms, the risk of a fire taking hold without you being alerted is greatly reduced.
Good housekeeping is key within the corridors guests and staff will use to escape, as well as in places like underground car parks and the safe assembly areas where escape routes lead. When we say housekeeping, we don’t mean how clean the area is. Housekeeping, in this case, refers to keeping key escape areas free from trip hazards and blockages and reducing the build-up or storage of combustible items. Underground car parks should be kept secure to reduce the risk of individuals breaking in and setting fires. This also applies to any bins/waste areas. These should also, where possible, be kept away from the building.
If you have a restaurant in addition to accommodation, there is an additional fire risk involved with cooking facilities. Regular cleaning and maintenance routines are vital to the safety of your staff and guests, preventing the build-up of grease, which poses a fire hazard. The cooking process is also a potential fire hazard, so having trained kitchen staff who know the dangers and how to respond if a fire starts could potentially prevent a major incident.
Keeping Everyone Safe
Taking all of the above considerations into account, your first step on the road to keeping all of your guests and staff safe is to have a fire risk assessment conducted by a qualified and competent fire risk assessor. A fire risk assessment will investigate all of the points mentioned above as well as fire doors, compartmentation and several other areas such as the testing and maintenance records of your fire safety equipment and staff training. The fire risk assessment report will make recommendations on what you, as the hotel manager/owner, can do to improve the hotel’s fire safety and reduce the fire risk.
Your Legal Responsibility
Compliance with fire safety legislation is your legal responsibility! There have been many cases where hotel owners have been prosecuted for failing to address fire safety breaches. For example:
If you haven’t had a fire risk assessment on your hotel or it’s been some time since the last one, contact us to arrange an appointment. Our experienced team of customer service advisors will be happy to help.
From the feedback we have been given by our clients, ensuring hotel staff have had sufficient training can be challenging. When you have a fire risk assessment from us, we offer free online basic fire awareness training and our fire warden training courses are conducted online regularly. This means that you don’t need staff to all be available for training at the same time.
“The service is excellent, the assessor is fair, discusses everything with you and his reasoning for any remedial work that may need to be undertaken. The reports are produced quickly and you get the benefit of the online training for staff.”
Natalie Morgan-Butler – The Libertine Group
“They break it down building by building and layout of the document is very user friendly. I see RA as my to do list and their format is ideal for me.”