How the best in hospitality manage a hotel fire

Safety and security professionals devise the best possible plan to combat tower fire and its aftermath

A hotel fire
A hotel fire

At the Hotelier Middle East’s Safety and Security Summit 2015, experts in attendance were requested to formulate a plan to handle the situation if fire erupted at their properties and the best practices to deal with the aftermath as well.

The roundtable was led by Aaron Vanney, associate manager, Rolf Jensen & Associates, and participants included more than 35 professionals, representing different hotels and service providers.


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The first scenario presented involved an alert to the Fire Command Centre (FCC), indicating smoke detection and water sprinkler activation. Experts agree that in such a situation, the incident must be immediately registered and the emergency response team (ERT) should be sent to investigate. This should be done in less than three minutes, and fire team must be alerted upon confirmation of crisis.


The second scenario had two different alerts to FCC from the same floor. Professionals in the audience concurred that it signals the confirmation of crisis, and ERT and firefighting team must be immediately dispatched to curb the situations. Additionally, other internal departments like engineering, housekeeping, finance, along with the general manager and Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) must be informed about the situation as well.

All rooms on the affected floor must be evacuated. Moreover, a floor below and two above should also be evacuated, in case the fire reaches spreads the floor and endangers surrounding occupants. All rooms must be manually checked, and guests should be guided to the exit to avoid chaos. Staff from other departments, like front of house, F&B, housekeeping, etc. can be engaged to speed up the evacuation process.

Once the situation is under control, guests need to be accommodated to other rooms or sister properties in case of unavailability. In addition, hotel’s PR manager should remain available to cater to queries from press and media.


Third scenario discussed at the roundtable explored the possibility of alerts from all the smoke detectors and water sprinklers at the property. Experts unanimously concluded that this indicates an error in the system, which can be mostly likely attributed to maintenance issues. Therefore, hotels must ask its maintenance partners to test security systems of a couple of floors at one time instead of one floor at a time, to avoid such glitches.

Commenting on the involvement of DCD, experts said that once the officials from the department arrive, they generally take over the situation. Hotel staff must endeavour to assist them in all possible ways, like provide the hotel map and highlight exit routes.

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