|Fire in a Hotel is the Worst Case Scenario. How to Avoid it?|
By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Monday, 21st October 2013
Exclusive Feature: In the romantic little hotel 'Waldesruh' that particular day in June 2013 will not be forgotten, it would become an extraordinary hot night: the Bavarian property, which offers on its website also 'romantic hours without overnight stay', in the middle of the night became illuminated by flashing blue lights from the local brigade. The cause: a fire that quickly escalated.
The horror of every hotelier in this particular case had already created facts: The roof within minutes went ablaze, immediate evacuation of the entire property was absolutely necessary. Within moments, the guests had to be awakened and brought out of the hotel. There were no injuries - an incredible stroke of luck, because a neighbour had noticed the first signs of fire close 3:00 am and dialed the emergency services immediately. The building itself was completely lost.
What could have happened, illustrates a case in Houston, Texas, also from June 2013: The motel "Southwest Inn" did burn in broad daylight in a huge conflagration and claimed four firefighter's deaths, which had searched for guests in the last second already under the burning roof. Grease in the kitchen of the restaurant was a suspected cause for the sudden, explosive ignition. The disaster was the deadliest use for the Houston Fire Department founded 118 years ago, a spokesman said.
Romantic candle-light dinner or sloppy handling of the fryer, in a hotel the risk of fire is much greater than in a private home. Yet few hoteliers use fire detectors consistently everywhere - because the devices cost money and must be provided regularly with new batteries. But what are a 100 dollars per year compared with a total loss or even the cost of a human live?
Regular exercises are indeed uncomfortable, but help your staff with the essential routine. On cruise ships a distress exercise must be - performed each week for the guests a fun for the staff a very important starting point for the case that I hope never occurs. Hotels are nothing more than cruise ships, which are firmly connected with the land - but also they can be disoriented people for fire to the death trap.
So why do not at least once in the year a fire drill? "Some hotels neglected the security so easily, after all, that is also a question of finances", says brand expert Ulrich Jander, offering fire protection training in the industry for years. In many training and subsequent exercises, he witnessed appalling ignorance of staff – in case of emergency there would be deaths.
The responsibility always lies with the hotelier: It also includes, to establish a fire brigade and transferred responsibilities. You must also communicate these safety efforts: security is a strong selling point, especially for tour operators from overseas. Really, all employees, find the master key for the fire brigade are knowledge? Marked emergency exits not only in language but also in English? Have all employees ever carried out an evacuation? Are escape plans posted in each room?
Do not base the survival chances of your guests on the pure chance that a more attentive neighbour in time raises an alarm. Do not trust too much in good fate, help yourself.
Exclusive Feature: This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.
Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams. For more info: www.4Hoteliers.com/itb.
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