Of all of the emergency situations a Hotel might face, a fire and the need for emergency evacuation of Guests and Staff is a situation that is most likely to arise. Emergency preparedness means being ready before an emergency strikes.
During an emergency event is not the right time to identify if a procedure is effective or not. Planning, preparation, training and practice ensures everyone is familiar with what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency.
Conducting exercises affirms procedures and identifies potential problems to be fixed before an emergency strikes. Planning and preparedness for such a situation is of critical importance.
Your Emergency Preparedness Plans must cover:-
- Actions to be taken in the event of a fire
- Emergency Evacuation Procedures for Guests and Staff
- Crisis Communication Systems
Risk Management is a vital aspect of Hotel Management and this management responsibility extends to the Hotel’s emergency preparedness and minimizing risk through:-
- Having well-prepared Emergency Action Plans (EAP) in place;
- Staff training on fire prevention and actions to take in the event of a fire;
- The appointment of Marshalls (management who will assume certain emergency responsibilities);
- Regularly conducting Evacuation Procedures; and
- Regularly conducting Fire and Safety Audits.
Hotel Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
The purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. The elements of the plan must include, but are not limited to:
- Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
- Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
- Procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical operations before they evacuate (e.g. shutting off gas supply, securing IT systems, etc.)
- Procedures to account for all Guests and employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed
- Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are to perform them
- Names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan
- Building Plans and floor plans/ layouts showing the location of emergency exits, fire hose connections, fire hydrants, electrical distribution boards, emergency generators, water mains, LPG gas storage facilities, etc.
The Hotel’s EAP should cover, in writing:
- Staff Fire Procedures (i.e. the actions to be taken upon a staff member discovering a fire)
- Methods for raising the fire alarm
- Procedures for the orderly evacuation of Guests and staff from the premises (This will include avoiding the use of lifts, any special arrangements for physically challenged Guests and Staff, the checking of public areas, informing and reassuring Guests, whilst directing them to exits and if appropriate checking the register of Guests and Staff at the assembly point.)
- The designation of a suitable Assembly Area;
- Appointment of Fire Marshalls (from amongst members of Management whose duties will include taking responsibility for evacuation of their defined area, carrying out defined evacuation procedures and for their defined re-assembly area).
- Records of staff members certified in First Aid;
- A list of Emergency Communications having a contact priority checklist to notify:-
- the local Fire Brigade
- the General Manager
- Municipal Emergency Services (where necessary)
- Maintenance Services (Lifts, Plumber, Electrician, Doctor, etc.)
- Other Departments to be on standby
- Medical Emergency Response Services (ambulances, doctors, trauma counseling)
- A Checklist of Emergency Equipment and Supplies (i.e. emergency lighting systems, flashlights, hard hats, clip boards. First Aid Kits, Fire blankets, blankets, protective equipment, food supplies, etc.)
- A Fire Safety Log Book of all staff Fire Drill and Fire Procedures training conducted
- A Fire Safety Log Book of all fire prevention systems, fire fighting equipment and fire safety inspections conducted
- A Record/ Log of all Evacuation procedure Drills
- A copy of the completed internal Hotel Fire Safety Audit
Written procedures for the evacuating of the Hotel premises must be available and include:-
- Closing doors and windows to restrict damage and spread of the fire;
- Securing lifts to ensure these are not used for evacuation purposes during a fire;
- The systematic evacuation of GUESTs (including obtaining Room Lists);
- The systematic evacuation of Staff;
- Securing vital documents, records, cash, etc.;
- Securing/ shut down of equipment (stoves, gas supplies, electrical equipment);
- Access to Master Keys/ Emergency Lighting/ First Aid boxes;
- Escape routes have been clearly designated for every operational area;
- Alternative escape routes have been identified in cases where primary escape routes are blocked by fire or smoke;
- Assembly points have been identified and are known to all Staff;
- Roll-call at Assembly areas.
STAFF FIRE TRAINING
It is the responsibility of the General Manager to ensure that all Staff are trained to deal with emergency situations. As part of this process it is imperative that all Staff participate in fire training regularly. Staff training is an integral part of effective fire safety management; Guests will be reliant on Staff and their reactions during an emergency situation.
All training provided must reflect the Hotel’s documented plan of action to take in an emergency.
Written Staff fire procedures should include:
The action to be taken upon discovering a fire.
The action to be taken upon hearing the fire alarm.
Raising the alarm, including the location of the alarm call points and fire indicator panel.
Where the assembly point is located.
The correct method of calling the fire brigade.
The location and use of fire fighting equipment.
Knowledge of escape routes, including any stairways not in regular use.
Knowledge of the method of operation for any special escape door fastenings.
Appreciation of the importance of fire doors and the need to close all doors at the time of a fire and upon hearing the fire alarm.
Stopping machines and processes and isolating power supplies where appropriate e.g. gas or electric ovens in kitchens.
The operation of escape doors that are not in regular use to ensure they function satisfactorily.
The evacuation procedure of the accommodation. This will include avoiding the use of lifts, any special arrangements for physically challenged Guests and Staff, the checking of public areas, informing and reassuring Guests, whilst directing them to exits and if appropriate checking the register of Guests and Staff at the assembly point.
General fire precautions, safety practices and fire prevention.
Specific members of Staff are to have written fire procedures covering their duties. These Staff will include:
- Managers of Departments.
- Kitchen Staff.
- Engineering & maintenance Staff.
- Security Staff.
- Bar & waiting Staff.
All training and instruction should be recorded in the Fire Safety Log Book. The following are examples of what may be recorded:
- Date of the instruction or exercise.
- Name of the person giving the instruction.
- Names of the persons receiving the instruction.
- The nature of the instruction, training or drill/exercise.
The fire logbook records should be retained for a minimum period of three years. The logbook contains important information and should be kept in a safe place, but be available for inspection by the fire brigade, insurance assessors, local authorities and tour operators.
The purpose of a fire drill is to ensure that Staff are trained in the role they would play if a fire should occur. A practice fire drill should be carried out at least once every six months, simulating conditions in which one or more escape routes from the building are obstructed. During these drills a member of Staff should operate the fire alarm and thereafter the fire routine should be rehearsed as fully as circumstances allow. Advance notice should be given of the date and the time of the drill so that Guests are fully informed.
Disclaimer: This information blog is produced as a guide to Hotel and GUEST House operations and is a guide only and the information contained herein serves as reference only. This blog is not a definitive source of reference and Hospitality Manuals shall not be held responsible or liable for any claim arising out of the use or application of material contained herein.