The Need to Improve Fire Safety in UK Hotels
A visible increase in hotel fires in the UK, most recently a Holiday Inn in the West Midlands that was gutted and required a significant fire operation, has raised some questions. It has caused concern over whether hotels need to take better measures to prepare their property, in case of fire and reduce the burden on firefighters.
Do Fire Risk Assessments need to be more thorough?
Fire Risk Assessments (FRA) offer a view of how secure a property and its occupants would be in the event of a fire. The FRA should identify corrective actions and steps to achieve the correct level of fire safety. However, based on the spate of hotel fires it seems the assessments are not thorough enough, to identify the entirety of the issues or ensure corrective actions have been implemented.
Alan Cox, a fire safety consultant said:
“There’s very little doubt in my mind that FRAs are generally not giving enough attention to the spread of fire between compartments. And it’s of little use having fire-resisting doorsets that are up to standard if the compartment around or above the door is not up to a similar standard. So perhaps we should extend the inspection of these items of fire safety to the fire compartment.”
He also makes it clear that there is too much dependency on automatic fire detection systems, which are often poorly installed and designed. In addition, they are not being distributed effectively across the key areas of the hotel. This is thereby reducing the effectiveness of the hotel’s fire safety plan when using these systems and leaving them vulnerable to fires.
Is budget to blame?
As the Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) face more cuts to their budget this has a knock-on effect on the level of enforcement of the FRA recommendations. So, hotels not taking necessary measures to ensure the building is fire secure is not entirely surprising. Alan Cox recalls he has had instances where FRS has not visited buildings for over five years, which can leave a lot of fire risks going unnoticed.
What methods should hotels be taking?
Sprinklers are one of the viable options that would better protect hotels in the event of a fire. However, the legislation across the UK makes it difficult to implement them across the country and it would be the hotels individual responsibility to acknowledge the need for sprinklers and have them installed.
London Fire Brigade has found:
“A significant reduction in business interruption when a fire is controlled by a sprinkler system.”
They are also beneficial for hotels, by enabling people to have more time to get out of the building by reducing spread of flames and especially aiding hotel guests who may have low or no mobility.
Although sprinklers are beneficial when added to a fire safety plan, they perform better when coupled with other measures. This includes fire alarms, fire doors, signage and fire extinguishers.
A hotel should have two Class A fire extinguishers to every floor of the building, which put out wood and paper fires. Hotels may also require, depending on the premises, a CO2 extinguisher for electrical fires, dry powder extinguisher for gas risks and wet chemical extinguishers if the building has a kitchen.
Hotels should comply with the 30 metre rule (British Standards (BS5306), whereby a person should be no more than 30 metres from the appropriate extinguisher on any level of the building.
What do we offer?
These fire safety methods with appropriate fire risk assessments would vastly improve the security in hotels in the event of a fire and inevitably reduce the cost of damage.
Cannon are industry recommended in supplying fire extinguishers and sprinklers for every business need, with the added addition of design, installation, maintenance, room integrity testing and refilling. If you need to improve your businesses fire safety, read more here.
About Cannon Fire Protection
With over 30 year’s experience, Cannon Fire Protection has developed an excellent reputation within the fire protection industry throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. Independent auditing of our quality management systems, contracting and service operations ensures the very best provision of support in our sector. Cannon is part of the Asset Protection Group.
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