It stands to reason that providing adequate fire detection within hotels shouldn't be ignored and those that fail to do so not only put people in danger, but also risk being put out of business. In 2015, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) secured the biggest fine ever against a private individual when the former owner of The Radnor Hotel in Bayswater, Salim Patel, was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £29,922 court costs after pleading guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO).
The ultimate consequence of such ignorance was borne out in 2007 at the Penhallow Hotel in Newquay, when a blaze killed three people and was described as the most deadly hotel fire in the UK for nearly 40 years. The owners were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £62,000 costs for failing to meet fire safety standards and not maintaining the building’s fire detection system.
Needless to say, anything and everything possible should be done to keep guests and staff safe, so when provisioning a life safety solution conducting a formal risk assessment is a fundamental first step. There are no hard and fast rules as to how fire risk assessments should be carried out, as every organisation is unique and may require a slightly different approach. However, it’s important that they are carried out systematically and the aim should always be to reduce the risks as much as is 'reasonably practicable'.
There are a number of important pieces of legislation to consider including The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which contain a consistent set of requirements. Employers also have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees at work. When it comes to the dangers associated specifically with fire, the RRFSO makes it mandatory for a dedicated ‘responsible person’ to ensure that premises are risk assessed and that any installed life safety equipment is fully maintained and fit for purpose.
Building Regulations Approved Document M section 4.4 states that, ‘A proportion of the sleeping accommodation in hotels, motels and student accommodation should be designed for independent use by wheelchair users. The remainder should include facilities that make them suitable for people who do not use a wheelchair, but may have mobility sensory, dexterity or learning difficulties.’ Furthermore, in order to comply with the Equality Act, all rooms must be fitted with fire detection technology that can provide disabled guests with an appropriate audio and visual warning. The British Standards Institute (BSI) introduced EN 54-23 in order to set stricter guidelines on the installation and performance requirements of visual alarm devices (VADs).
Those unfortunate enough to have had to evacuate a hotel in the middle of the night due to an unwanted alarm will understand the disruption and dissatisfaction that it can cause. In addition to the unnecessary intervention of personnel and the costs of having the fire and rescue services attend, the loss of revenue, wasted food in restaurants and reputational damage should not be underestimated.
Gent’s S-Quad is a great example of technology that enables hotel owners and managers to avoid such events occurring. S-Quad was the first intelligent loop powered multifunctional device to include a sensor, sounder, speech and visual alarm, and it has developed an enviable reputation for its ability to prevent unwanted alarms. Incorporating four separate sensing elements – heat, carbon monoxide, and dual angle optical forward and backward scatter, S-Quad combines local processing in the sensor and the panel to achieve an immediate response to genuine fires.
Siting detectors should also be given careful consideration and BS 5839 states that detectors should be placed no less than 0.5m from a wall. It’s not just detectors that need to be carefully sited though – sounders should achieve 65dB in all areas of the building and in areas where people are sleeping the sound level needs to be 75dB at the bed-head. To achieve this level with only sounders in a hotel corridor, the sounder needs to be set at 105db to be heard in the bedroom. I would like to offer a word of advice at this point – this method results in considerable current consumption and installing the sounder in the bedroom set at a lower sound pressure is a more efficient design.
In the event of a fire, alerting and evacuating all parties at risk in good time has to be given the highest priority, so technology is needed that guarantees rapid, reliable fire detection and activates both the alarm devices and the relevant fire control installations. There’s a range of information available on this issue, so there really are no excuses for not doing everything possible to keep people safe.
Gent by Honeywell
the biggest fine ever against a private individual
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO)
a blaze killed three people
conducting a formal risk assessment
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
Building Regulations Approved Document M
a range of information available