Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fire & Life Safety - Priority #1

I had a “reminder” pop up on my Outlook the other day; to remind me that it was time that we conduct another fire drill.

As it happened, I’m no longer attached to that Hotel project but the reminder served to remind me of the importance of a full fire and emergency plan, AND, that you conduct regular, spontaneous fire drills in your Hotel.

It’s always been my practice, as soon as I join a new Hotel, to get my hands on the Fire & Emergency Plan, AND, to find out what is being done to ensure that life safety is a top priority within the property.

I have frequently been shocked at the response that I have gotten and even more shocked by the lack of ongoing training and drills held for employees, and as I stated immediately above, I believe it is all the more valuable to conduct spontaneous drills.

Obviously, guests and participants in meetings need to be advised, or, if you are fortunate enough to have a gap in meetings that coincides with the need to drill, that is even better. The less people you have to take into your confidence the better.

I would contact the local Fire Department and our alarm monitoring company that morning, let them know exactly at what time I was going to pull the alarm, and promise to call them as soon as the drill was completed.

I would also take a handful of Managers without “assigned duties” in the event of an alarm and ask them to position themselves in key areas, moments before I pulled the alarm, and then be prepared to provide feedback afterwards.

Then I would go off somewhere in the building and pull a pull station, or, create smoke under a smoke alarm, and wait for the emergency response team to arrive on scene.

Not always, but sometimes, when the emergency response team arrived, I would create a scenario, such as; “there is smoke seeping out from under that guestroom door, what are you going to do now?”

Also on occasion, when they opened that guestroom door, I would have someone laying face down on the floor five or six feet in the room, then let the emergency response team know that the room is filled with smoke, there appears to be someone whose feet you can just see ahead. What now?

I’m sure you can guess that some people did not like my drills very much, but I can also tell you, in my Hotels, fire and life safety really was a top priority, always.

Is it a priority where you are?

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