Hotel Fire Training Programs Effectiveness In New York City

Abstract

New York City hotels use diverse means in controlling incidences of fire outbreaks. They employ various sprinklers that are sensitive to smoke and fire as well as various systems in evacuating people in the event of a fire outbreak. However, this has been not been effective in the past with most of their staff not being able to use the available facilities in controlling fire incidences. Fire has resulted from staff and guests negligence leading to fatalities and loss of property. As a result, hotels have realized the need for training their staff on how to respond in case of fire outbreaks. They have come up with various training programs where staff is trained on how to use some of the equipment found within the hotels.

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Powerpoint slides have been used to educate them on how to operate and maintain a fire extinguisher. For those who run high-rise hotels, they have trained their staff on the need to ensure that every guest is taken around the building to familiarize with it. Some sites have also been set aside where people trapped in hotels can converge as they wait to be rescued. Clogging of corridors with goods has been one of the contributing factors to people being trapped in hotels as they try to get out. The staff has been educated on the need to regularly patrol exit corridors to ensure that there are no obstacles on the way that might hinder people from getting out fast. Despite these efforts, training has been faced with a lack of enough time for employee training as well as limited training facilities.

Introduction

The finest way to understand how to react in case of fire is by conducting realistic training. Hotels unlike other facilities have very unique fire safety issues. This is due to the way they are built and the number of occupants who live in them. Various problems have been reported in case of fire outbreaks in some of the hotels in New York. Some of them include problems in alerting the occupants as well as providing enough doors for people to use in case of fire. Most of the hotel staff also lack the knowledge on how to prevent incidences of fire in their hotels. Negligence and lack of knowledge by the staff have in most cases led to fire outbreaks which eventually lead to death and damage of property. Training staff on what to do in case of fire would help in reducing fatalities in hotels as a result of fire outbreaks (Article Base.com, 2008, Par. 1). This has lead to hotels organizing training for their staff and which are now proving effective.

Fatalities and injuries due to negligence

There have been several reported cases of death and injuries from hotel fire caused by either the employees’ negligence or the negligence of the visitors as the one witnessed in Westcase Hilton. According to hospitality magazines in North America, hotels allocate twenty-five percent of their rooms to smokers. Consequently, many hotel fire breakouts have resulted from smokers’ negligence often leading to fatality or injury to the employees and other hotel occupants. For instance, a fire at Westcase Hilton led to the death of twelve out of thirty occupants of the hotel. According to the findings from investigators, the fire had been triggered by a smoker who dropped a cigarette causing ignition to one of the provided seats. They suppose that a lighted cigarette fell on a narrow opening on the seat leading to it burning slowly without emitting smoke which eventually resulted in a fire eruption. All of the dead victims were occupants of the floor that the fire originated from with a family of four and a family of five being among the victims. Also, five guests from the same floor were hospitalized with most of them being in critical condition (Fire beaters, 2005, par. 1-5). As a result of these, hotels have come up with various methods of detecting and fighting the fire. Had the hotel staff have knowledge of fire fighting techniques; they could have avoided most of the damages and injuries that resulted from this fire outbreak. There could have also been proper facilities in the rooms to be used by smokers.

Fire prevention in hotels

Hotels use varied methods to detect and fight fire incidences. This can be through the use of heat and smoke detectors, automatic sprinklers and emergency warning and evacuation systems. Heat and smoke detectors alert the hotel operators in advance before flames develop. For instance, Wormald’s CO and Laser detectors are capable of detecting fires without smoke that emits colorless and unscented carbon monoxide gases long before the normal detectors. There is also use hidden and inconspicuous sprinklers with water spray nozzles sealed with heat-sensitive glass bulbs to extinguish the fire. In case of fire, the bulb senses triggering the sprinkler to spray water in the direction of the fire. Through this method, hotels do not incur great costs in their installations and help in preventing hefty fire outbreaks. There are different types of sprinklers with varied spray patterns to effectively suppress the fire and at the same time minimize water loss. Emergency warning and evacuation systems are centrally controlled allowing one to keep the guests and employees informed and to issue them with instructions in the occasion of a fire. Through this, employees are able to monitor the hotel occupants from floor to floor and direct them to the designated exit doors in case of a fire outbreak. Despite the availability of varied means of curbing fire in hotels, they can not be effective if the hotel design and that of the facilities is not well taken care of. Hotels have started consulting fire-fighting experts before they embark on designing and constructing their hotels. The hotel building’s layout needs to be designed in a way that there will be the provision of converging points where people assemble in case of fire to determine those who might have been trapped in the building (Wormald Hotel and Leisure brochure, 2008, par 1-8).

Effectiveness of hotel training

For hotels and restaurants that offer smoking facilities, staff has established proper guidelines to help them in case of a fire outbreak. Initially, there were no proper measures for this such as providing smoking tools in each guest room. Employees have been taught the steps to take in case of a flame and they do not have fire extinguishers. Hotels have come up with training programs that consist of video records describing incidences of fire outbreaks and how different people respond to these outbreaks. Through these, the staff is being equipped with knowledge on how to react in case of fire. Various instructors also teach hotel staff how to protect themselves as well as the guests in case of a fire outbreak. Most of the hotels in New York are high rise. These hotels have many floors and are occupied by many people. Consequently, hotels staff are being trained on how to ensure the safety of these guests (Safety Training Tips, 2009, Par. 2-3). This had been neglected in the past with these hotels not providing measures for people such as setting aside places where people can be evacuated from in case of fire outbreak. There is a need for them to ensure that no visitor ends up being hospitalized due to accidents resulting from fire outbreaks. In case some guests are trapped in the building, they need to be shown to places they can assemble as they wait to be rescued. The staff is being trained on how to make sure that all the guests who visit their hotels familiarize themselves with the place. They also need to know the security measures they can take in case of fire. Hotel staff is trained on how to come up with fire safety measures such as establishing signs directing visitors to various doors that are designated for exit in case of a fire outbreak. This is leading to most hotels publishing security instructions and pinning them on places where they can be read by both the guests and staff.

There are PowerPoint slides that describe to staff how to operate various fire fighting equipment. For instance, staff are being taught how to use fire extinguishers through PowerPoint slides. They learn how to inspect the extinguisher to ensure that it is always in good condition. In the past, there have been cases where hotels burnt down despite there being fire-fighting equipment. This is because the staff was not able to operate them while some equipment was faulty without their knowledge.

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There have been cases where people get trapped in hotels in events of fire outbreaks without the knowledge of the hotel staff. This has lead to staff being trained on the need to establish a place where all people occupying the hotels can converge in case of fire to identify those that have been trapped for proper measures to be taken in rescuing them (Safety Training Tips, 2009, Par. 4-6). This has led to a reduction of cases where people get trapped in the building without the staff’ knowledge.

Some regular hotel management duties have been ignored for a long time by hotel staff. These include policing the hotel corridors to ensure that everything is in order. Training has emphasized the need for staff to conduct regular patrols of corridors during the day and at night. This would help in ensuring that all facilities provided for fire safety are kept in order. For instance, the staff will be able to ensure that fire doors are closed accordingly. They will also be able to clear any obstacles that might be lying along the corridors used as exits in case of emergency. Most of the past fatalities have resulted due to people not being able to out of the building due to the exit corridors being clogged with items.

Most hotel fire outbreaks result due to the staff not being aware of various activities that may lead to fire outbreaks. For the case of those who work in kitchens, the various gases they use for cooking need to be handled with a lot of care as most of them are highly flammable. Staff is being taught methods of using these gases in the most secure way (Parker, 2009, Par. 2-4). The finest way to understand how to react in case of fire is by conducting realistic training. Staff is taken through real fire demonstrations to help them familiarize themselves with the various hazards brought about by fire as well as gain skills on how to behave in case of fire. While most of the hotel staff attribute using fire extinguishers to just removing the pin and pulling the trigger, they have come to realize that there is more than that. There are various fire extinguishers designed for various types of fire. They are identified by looking at their color. Various extinguishers are coded with different colors and symbols. Staff is trained on how to identify these colors as well as the specific extinguisher to use in case of a particular fire outbreak.

Barriers to training

Several challenges are encountered during the staff training. Some of these challenges include the lack of proper facilities for teaching the staff. Most hotels assign the responsibility of coming up with training programs to the human resource staff. These staffs lack the knowledge of all proper measures that need to be put in place to control fire outbreaks. As a result, the programs developed have sometimes not been effective in equipping staff with the necessary skills. Lack of enough time has been another barrier. As the aim of the hotels is to make as much profit as possible, they do not avail time for employees training. Employees are ever occupied with their different responsibilities leaving no time for them to undergo training. This has resulted in most of them being puzzled in the event of fire leading to fatality and damage of hotel property. The cost of organizing these training programs is also high making most of the hotels shy off. This is with respect to paying the personnel who conduct the training and the time spent during the training.

Conclusion

The duty of responding to fire safety measures set by any hotel is assigned to employees. They are trained on how to be responsible in their obligations. This may include conducting an assessment of the risk that may be caused by fire not only to the hotel but also to the occupants of the hotel. This also ensures that they put into consideration special cases such as those of people who require special needs like the disabled. By so doing, they are able to avoid reduces risks that are controllable by putting the appropriate measures.

Reference

Article Base.com. (2008). Fire Safety Responsibilities In Hotels. Web.

Fire Beater. (2005). Smoking fires in hotels and motels. Web.

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Parker, S. (2009). Fire Safety Could Be The Difference Between Life And Death. Web.

Safety Training Tips. (2009). Fire Safety Training For Hotels. Web.

Wormald Hotel and Leisure brochure. (2008). Proven fire detection and suppression technology. Web.

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