The fire alarm is blaring, and smoke is beginning to fill the hall of the hotel in which you are staying. According to the Seattle Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Division in Washington, a guest whose room is in flames has roughly two minutes to get out alive. The city in which your hotel is located will likely have passed laws requiring the hotel staff to have an evacuation procedure in place in case of a fire. For example, the Charlotte Fire Department in North Carolina requires all residential occupancies operating as hotels, motels or boarding houses to have a fire safety and evacuation plan in place, in order to operate legally.
Staff Meets at Front Desk or at Evacuation Routes
If an alarm sounds, staff members are to rush to the front desk and await orders from the fire director. The fire director is a previously appointed person who spends the majority of their workweek at the hotel and knows it inside and out. Fire wardens are those staff members who are assigned to a specific floor to help with the evacuation of guests on that floor, suggests the Charlotte Fire Department. In the event of an alarm, they will report to their positions---usually at the exit stairwell of the floor to which they are assigned---and await the fire director’s orders, recommends the High-Rise Hotel Fire Safety Plan, of Houston, Texas.
Check for Fire
If the alarm sounds, one or two staff members, with walkie-talkies, should be sent to the alarm’s location to determine if a fire is present. If it is, they have the responsibility of alerting the front desk and alerting those in immediate danger of being trapped by the flames. The staff members should carry a flashlight on their person, in case smoke becomes too thick and they cannot see well. They will assist the fire wardens in rounding up guests and evacuating them from the hotel.
The front desk clerk should call 911 and relay the dispatcher the hotel name, address, the fire’s location within the hotel and any pertinent information the fire brigade may need in detecting or fighting the fire. The front desk operator shall take only those calls coming from inside the hotel, before any that are external, because these may be coming from guests trying to alert the front desk of a fire or an entrapment situation.
As the front desk clerk waits for help to arrive, she should begin calling each hotel guest and alerting them of the alarm and their need to vacate the premises. As she does this, she will need to keep a list of guests who do not answer their phones. This list will be given to the fire brigade along with master keys to every room of the hotel, upon their arrival. According to Seattle Fire Department’s hotel fire plan, the front desk clerk also will need to print up a list of all guests, highlighting those who have disabilities and those who may require extra assistance in evacuating the building.