The statistics are clear, although the overall number of U.S. hotel and motel fires is on the decline there are still over 3,700 structural fires per year with one in twelve hotels reporting a fire. As winter and the peak hotel fire season approaches, hotel fire inspections and hotel safety inspections should be at the top of maintenance to do lists.

Types of Hotel Fires and Causes

According to U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA’s) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) there are two types of fires that hotels should be concerned about and each accounts for approximately 50% of reported fires.

The first is a confined fire which describes a fire in a confined area. These types of fires rarely do significant damage to a hotel but they can cause a room or hotel area to be closed for repairs.

Cooking fires are most common confined fire accounting for 75% of all incidences. Other common types of confined fires include trash and equipment fires. Fewer than 9% of these fires will extend beyond the room but if they do they are likely to impact the entire hotel facility.

The second type of fire is termed as nonconfined which describes larger and more damaging fires. The leading causes of nonconfined fires are electrical malfunctions, open flames, appliances, intentionally set fires and smoking.

The points of origin for nonconfined fires are dominated by the hotel guestrooms, laundry and kitchen areas. The hotel assets that are most ignited are linens, followed by general materials and structural assets. Perhaps the most telling statistic for hotel maintenance management is below.

Clearly, common fire safety inspections and procedures as well as the quality of maintenance for the hotel’s assets play a critical role in minimizing the number of fires.

Hotel Fire Inspections Checklist

Another couple of interesting statistic are that between 10-15% of all fires occurred in hotels without a smoke alarm system and in more than 10% of fires it was determined that the alarm failed to operate.

With that said, even the best hotel operation cannot prevent all fires. Some fire are intentionally set and other fires are truly accidents. This makes the inspections and maintenance of all hotel fire and safety equipment paramount.

Hotel maintenance should always have a working plan to perform inspections on fire and safety equipment. This plan should also incorporate the inspections of regular hotel equipment. Some inspections can be carried out with in-house maintenance staff, some can be outsourced and other items need to comply with local fire codes or federal travel regulations.

“The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 requires that each guestroom in a place of public accommodation offer a minimum level of fire safety. This means having at least one, single-station, hard-wired smoke alarm in each guest room and if the building is four or more stories in height, each room must have additional protection provided by an automatic fire sprinkler system.”

Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Hotel Assets that should be on the Inspections Checklists

Assets/items that should be on every hotel’s inspections checklists include but are not limited to:

  • Smoke alarms
  • Fire suppression systems
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Evacuation routes (stairwells, doors, locks etc.)
  • Exposed electrical cords for fraying
  • Room kitchens, hotplates
  • Hotel kitchen equipment
  • Hotel laundry equipment
  • Motors
  • Any asset that produces heat
  • Electrics, a full electrical review can be done using an outside electrician and infrared technology
  • Room assets such as hair dryers, HVAC filters
  • Dust inspections especially on or around on electrical devices
  • Fireplaces, flues and chimneys
  • Garbage areas

Since each hotel is different in size and the number of assets, it would be impossible to list each and every asset that needs to be on the inspections checklist. The actual detail on a checklist should be supplied by experienced maintenance staff and local fire officials.

Hotel Fire Inspection Software

Because of the sheer volume of hotel assets, hotel fire inspections can be performed more efficiently and effectively if a hotel uses computerized maintenance management software (CMMS). This is because CMMS programs enable hotel maintenance management to:

  • Organize and prioritize all assets needing fire inspections from the largest piece of kitchen equipment to individual smoke alarms.
  • Schedule all the fire inspections.
  • Enable fire inspections to be carried out using mobile devices or spreadsheets at specified times.
  • Record fire inspection results and enable a quicker response to assets needing preventive maintenance or repairs.
  • Minimize hotel liability should a fire occur by being able to produce accurate maintenance records showing due diligence which may negate negligence claims if a lawsuit is filed.
  • Can be used to track the results of infrared thermography testing on electrical assets. The results are added to the asset’s maintenance history.
  • Schedule and monitor outside vendors or the time of a Fire Marshall’s visit.
  • Provide proof of all fire code compliance.
  • Save lives, reduce the frequency of fires and prevent a financial and public disaster nightmare.

One of the worse possible public relations disasters for a hotel is a major fire that costs someone their life especially if the fire inspectors determine that the hotel could have prevented it.

Share with us how your hotel performs fire inspections? Are the inspections paper-based or do you need help becoming more efficient?

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