14 August 2014
It’s the summer season and a lot of us are planning some sort of break, whether it is abroad or here in the United Kingdom. What is it you look for in a getaway hotel?
For most people it could be the surroundings, the facilities, the food or the price, but do you ever consider the fire safety standard of the hotel to be a defining factor?
In October 2006, the Fire Safety Order was enforced, providing strict requirements for hotels’ fire safety standards. You would think that since then hotels would have taken notice and made sure they were compliant, but unfortunately this hasn’t been the case.
In August 2007, Penhallow Hotel in Newquay, experienced what was described as one of the worst fires in 40 years. Three people lost their lives as the hotel was completely destroyed in the blaze. It was later revealed after the investigation in 2011 that the owners of the Cornish hotel had failed to meet the fire safety standards. Smoke and fire detectors were not ensured to be in working order and a fire risk assessment was not adequately made. Court action was taken, and the owners were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £62,000 for failing to meet the regulations.
Thankfully, incidents of this magnitude are rare, but there have still been a lot of recorded hotel fires in the past few years.
- Ryde Castle Hotel, Isle of Wight, partially collapsed due to a fire in March 2012.
- Courtney Hotel, Aldersbrook, required 40 fire fighters to attend a blaze in March 2012.
- Holiday Inn, Brighton, needed 30 fire fighters to attend an incident in April 2012.
- Sandgate Hotel, Folkstone, contained a fire to 1 room in April 2012, but took 1 hour to put out.
- Falmouth Beach Hotel, Falmouth, needed 100 fire fighters for a fire in May 2012.
- Midland Hotel, Manchester, experienced a laundry cart fire in June 2012.
- Mercure Hotel, Kidderminster, had a fire in their swimming pool plant room in August 2012.
- Lough Erne Golf Resort, Co Fermanagh, had a large fire in their spa causing heavy smoke damage to the ground and first floor of the hotel in November 2012.
- Rose and Crown Hotel, Haverhill, experienced a roof fire in July 2014.
- Mal Maison, Oxford, needed 6 fire engines to attend in August 2014.
- Soprano Hotel, Aberdeen, had a fire break out in their basement in August 2014.
Hotels come with obvious fire hazards and risks as there can be hundreds of people staying together in the one building, most of whom are not familiar with the layout or escape routes of the hotel. The demographics of each hotel also vary and bring their own risks. Hotels that cater to a more elderly clientele may have a large amount of guests with mobility, visual or hearing impairments, making it more difficult to evacuate the building. Hotels that attract a younger crowd may have more guests under the influence of alcohol, increasing the risk of accidents and slowing down reaction times.
Whatever the situation, by ensuring hotels adhere to the Fire Safety Order it is of benefit to all involved.
Last year, BBC’s Inside Out South West investigated hotel fire safety undercover. They revealed that 11 out of the 14 hotels they inspected failed to meet the Fire Safety Standards.
It has been suggested that hotels should introduce a ratings system, similar to the food hygiene ratings system, which can be displayed to notify guests of the fire safety standards in place and undergo regular, random inspections.
To keep yourselves safe while you’re away, remember to make yourself familiar with the layout of your accommodation, and know the escape route that has been put in place.
Keybury’s latest Fire-Risk Assessor, Anthony McNulty commented – “Listen, when we arrive on holiday we all check the pool, where the bar is, the restaurant and where we can watch Sky Sports. So why not take a few minutes to check where the stairs are in case the lift is turned off, where the nearest fire door is and where the nearest extinguishers are? Then you can really relax and watch Sky Sports!”
Taking a few minutes on arrival to run through this short check list will give you that extra peace of mind, and be invaluable in the case of an emergency.