If you own or manage a hotel, then you know that the safety of your guests and employees needs to be a top priority. One of the biggest threats to employee and guest safety, it turns out, is the risk of a fire. Fire departments in the United States respond to more than 3,500 hotel and motel fires each year, on average. Nine civilian deaths and 120 civilian injuries result from those fires. Are you doing all that you can to ensure the next fire does not happen in your facility? Here are four tips to help prevent accidents by improving your fire safety and prevention.
Test your fire alarms regularly.
Most states require that fire alarms are tested at a certain interval. This interval may be once a year or every six months. It's always best to go above and beyond this requirement so you can be absolutely sure your fire alarms are working correctly. Test once a month or once a week if you can. (Do this in the middle of the day between check-in and check-out times when there are very few people in the hotel).
When you do test, do not just assume that since the alarm is going off, it is working 100% effectively. Also check to ensure any lights that accompany the alarm are flashing, as these are responsible for warning hearing-impaired individuals of the fire.
Keep those fire doors closed.
In most jurisdictions, hotels are required to keep the fire doors, which divide various hallways, closed at all times. However, it's not uncommon to see these doors propped open, either by employees or guests who don't want to have to keep opening and closing them. The doors are designed to be fire-resistant and to keep a fire that breaks out in one area of the hotel from spreading throughout the building. If they are open, they cannot do that job, and any fire that does break out is more likely to cause substantial damage and death.
Emphasize at your staff meetings how important it is that employees always keep the fire doors closed. If you suspect guests may be propping the doors, just ask them kindly not to do this when they check in. You could also post signs on the fire doors that state "door must remain closed at all times."
Hire experienced kitchen staff.
Cooking equipment is the number one cause of fires in hotels and motels. In fact, half of all hotel fires start in the kitchen! There are so many important elements of fire prevention in the kitchen, from making sure fire extinguishers are present to replacing aging equipment. However, one important factor that's often overlooked is hiring experienced kitchen staff. Workers who are used to being around hot stoves, fryers, and other kitchen equipment are less likely to "mess up" by leaving a towel on a hot stove or forgetting that a burner is on.
Only hire cooks and other kitchen staff who have worked in a kitchen before and who come with positive recommendations from past employers. You should also make no bones about letting go employees who show irresponsibility in the kitchen.
Do not allow smoking indoors.
In many states, smoking in hotels is already illegal. But if you live in a state that does still permit smoking in hotels, it's still in your best interest to forbid guests from smoking indoors in your hotel. The fact that smoking is unhealthy has become so widely known that guests will not be surprised or argumentative about this policy. You can designate a smoking area outside, away from the building, if guests do put up a fuss. Smoking accounts for 75% of all civilian deaths in hotel fires, and it's the cause of 8% of hotel fires -- so it's worth your while to make these changes to your smoking policy.
You may also want to consider opting for fire alarm monitoring through a place like Fyr Fyter Inc.