With hundreds of guests and staff, and dozens of potential fire risks, fire safety is an extremely high priority for hotels. The Fire Safety Order (FSO) sets out a number of regulations and guidelines that all businesses and building owners have to comply with to ensure the safety of property and persons. However, the way the FSO is interpreted is different in each case, as the idea is to identify and reduce fire risks associated with specific buildings. There isn’t, therefore, a specific hotel checklist you can follow to comply with fire safety regulations.
However, following this ten-point framework will give you a good idea about what you need to include in your Emergency Plan to comply with the FSO.
The starting point for any fire safety plan is a comprehensive risk assessment, so if you haven’t done so already, begin by carrying one out. The risk assessment should identify fire hazards and rate them in terms of high, moderate and low-risk. For instance, your kitchen would be considered a high-risk area, as would a chemical storeroom. At-risk persons should also be identified, such as the occupants of family rooms, or disabled members of staff. For each risk you identify, a plan should be put in place to eliminate (if possible), reduce and protect people from that risk.
If a fire cannot be prevented, steps should be put in place to detect one as soon as possible should it occur, and to warn people in your hotel that there is a fire. For a hotel, a detection and warning system should be a network of smoke detectors linked to clear alarms in all occupied areas of your building, including individual hotel rooms. Many hotels choose to link their alarm directly to the local fire brigade so that immediate notification can be given.
Every floor should have an appropriate number of fire doors, with clearly marked escape routes from all points. High-risk areas should have correspondingly fast escape routes to enable quick evacuation. Fire exits should lead to a safe point outside the building. Areas at risk of fire should also have heavy, fireproof doors which can be closed after evacuation to prevent the spread of fire.
When a fire is detected, it is frequently good practice to shut down non-essential systems that could be damaged by fire or make one worse. Or, in other cases, a fire itself may cause the electrics in your building to fail. It is your responsibility to ensure that there is sufficient emergency lighting to make sure emergency routes and fire exits are adequately lit. This is especially important in areas where there is little or no natural light, such as your hotel corridors.
Your fire safety plan should include areas outside your hotel sufficient to accommodate all the building’s occupants, safely removed from any hazard (such as oncoming traffic, smoke, falling glass etc). These will be your muster points where people will congregate when the fire alarm sounds. Depending on the size of your establishment and number of guests you may need multiple muster points. For a small hotel it may be sufficient to have just two; one for guests and one for staff.
For every 200m² of floor space you should provide a water (red) fire extinguisher. Additional firefighting equipment should be supplied at other relevant points. For instance, if cooking oil (Class F) fires are a risk in your kitchen, you should install wet chemical (yellow) fire extinguishers. Carbon dioxide (black) or powder (blue) fire extinguishers should be provided where there is a risk of electric or gas fire. You may also have to include supplementary equipment, such as fire blankets in the vicinity of the fire hazard, for instance the kitchen.
All of your staff should be trained in fire safety procedures, including vigilance, how to raise an alarm, how to fight fires, and how to evacuate the building. You should also appoint ‘Competent Persons’ as Fire Safety Officers with specific responsibilities. Some should be responsible for evacuating guests, others for securing the building and closing down at the electrics, others for taking a roll call at the muster points, and so on. Regular fire drills and training sessions should be carried out with your duty managers so that all staff are clear on what to do in the event of a fire.
Fire action notices should be clearly displayed so staff and visitors understand what action to take in the event that a fire is discovered, these are usually located adjacent Manual Call Points and in each hotel room. All fire escape routes should have adequate signage showing the escape route via the shortest available route.
The result of this risk assessment and planning process will be the Emergency Fire Plan, which will cover the previous eight points. This should be published as a hard copy and made available to all staff on your hotel intranet. It should also be made available to staff as part of their new starter induction. You will also need to retain this plan for examination by the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) if you have a fire safety inspection.
You must ensure all existing equipment is kept in working order and checked at regular intervals by a competent person, one way of achieving this is by using a third party accredited company to carry out these checks.
The safety of your staff and guests depends on taking quick action when a fire occurs. Complying with fire safety regulations also prevents you being subject to Enforcement and Prohibition Notices for failing to take the necessary steps. Find out more about your statutory obligations in our Quick Guide to UK Fire Safety Regulations. You can access your copy of the guide for free by visiting our website here.