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Hotels and University Housing Hazards Research Paper


The hotel industry presents certain safety hazards that make it necessary for all the stakeholders to be aware of these hazards. Fire is one of the major hazards that have remained as a challenge to the hotel industry in the United States. It puts the lives of employees and guests at risk. Historical analyses show that these fires had caused significant repercussions to the lives of the occupants and the properties. For instance, 3900 hotel fires are reported annually; this causes an estimate of 150 injuries and 15 deaths.

In 1883, a hotel fire in Wisconsin resulted to 80 deaths. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) noted the 1946 Winecoff Hotel fire in Atlanta, Georgia. This has been the worst fir disaster in the history of the US. The fire killed 119 people. In addition, there have been rampant fire fatalities in the early 80s that is within a three-month period; from November 1980 to February 1981, fire had burnt four hotels. These fires claimed 125 lives of civilians and caused numerous injuries to firefighters and hundreds of civilians.

Of the four hotel fires, the MSG Grand Hotel fire in Las Vegas, Nevada claimed the highest number of lives at 85. On the other front, Universities in the US have also experienced fire casualties. For example, in April 2003, 6 students perished due to fire outbreaks. These off-campus incidences occurred in Massachusetts and Ohio State Universities. Earlier in 2000, 13 students and 2 parents died from fire in the University environments.

During this period, seven students died within the Universities’ Halls of Residence. Clearly, this analogy on fatalities from fire epidemic has caused numerous loses for the US citizens and the federal government in general (“Campus Fire Safety: Safety Tips for Students & Parents.”).

Consequently, hotels and Universities ought to follow stringent preventive practices/measures in order to avert such damages and loss of lives in the future. Human safety remains the first priority in all activities such as in construction of hotels and learning institutions.

Fire safety in hotels is under the guidance of the Hotel & Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990. The act requires that most federal travelers stay in hotels with minimum fire safety elements in case there is a requirement for commercial lodgings. This law came into effect following the numerous fire disasters in the 70s and 80s.

The contents of the Act included single-station, hard-wired smoke detector in each guestroom, smoke alarms, and fire sprinkler systems. These gadgets must meet the national standards requirements. Hotels and motels that met the above requirement were listed in the National Master List (NML).

By 2011, over 43, 000 hotels and motels had complied with the federal Hotel & Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990; therefore, were listed in the NML. The lodging industry has made several strides towards improving the status of their accommodation in order to enhance life safety. The federal government has been stern on this Act; it offers incentives to properties that comply with the contents of the Act. Not all hotels have fire sprinklers.

The Act has different components namely construction-structural assemblies, exits, interior finishing materials, heating, air handling, and cooking exhaust systems, standpipes, sprinklers and portable fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems, and duties of hotelkeeper in fire protection. The construction-structural assemblies stipulate that houses built after September 1, 1971 should have floor assemblies that act as fire separations on top of basements (“Hotel Fire Safety Act.”).

Secondly, the walls and arches that hold floor assemblies should have ¾-hour fire resistance rating. These are requirements for one or two storey buildings. A three-storey hotel or an addition to a hotel should be made from noncombustible materials. In addition, garage stores should not have a separation between floors. Fire Marshal has to approve the measures and standards.

The Fire safety describes the regional expectation of firewalls. The hotel should cover a basic area of not over 600m2 as the firewalls divide the additional components. The vertical compartment should also not exceed 600m2. A firewall has to separate a building adjacent to the hotel from the hotel.

Notably, any building that is converted to a hotel must adhere to the Regulations. Others like the assembly rooms and dining rooms that are operating in connection with the hotel must have a one-hour separation. The requirement can only be avoided if the other buildings are under full protection by an automatic sprinkler system. The interior stairways that connect the basements should have a ¾-hour fire separation from the hotel (“Hotel Fire Safety Act.”).

Fire escapes or exterior stairways that sew a storey that is beyond the second storey are to be separated from the hotel. The sleeping rooms in hotels are to be separated from each other a fire separation corresponding to ¾. Moreover, the doors are to be equipped with other openings that can make it possible for one to escape in times of fire outbreak. The hotel fire safety identifies hazardous areas as incinerators, furnaces, and boilers.

These materials should have a one-hour fire separation from the hotel. For noncombustible constructions, an oil heating appliances can be installed. Such rooms must have direct outlets to the outdoors. A fire separation of at least ¾ ought to be applied in creating laundry rooms and storage areas.

Hotels that were constructed after 1971 were to have an automatic sprinkler system in linen. The linen is to protect the sprinkler system during operation. The Congress passed these requirements in order to save properties and above all lives of its citizens. Both the rubbish and linen chutes were to be installed in a close shaft with an automatic venting that leads to the outdoors.

The Hotel Fire Safety Act further outlines the roles of the hotelkeepers. Upon discovery of fire, the hotelkeeper should sound the fire alarm. In case the hotel is within a municipal that has a fire department, he/she must call them for immediate response. In addition, nobody is permitted to switch off the fire alarm unless there is no fire or it has been put out.

The act stipulates that the person in charge must be at the premise at all times. At the entrance, the act demands that the procedures on how to operate the fire alarm, procedural plan on evacuation, fire hazard control, operate fire-fighting machines and procedures on how the department can access the building must be mounted on the wall. The hotel owner must ensure that he/she displays a notice on what to do in case of fire outbreak on the exit door and in every room.

The notice also indicates what the guest should do in case he/she hears a fire alarm (“Fire Safety Policies.”). Additionally, diagrams on fire emergency systems should be recorded for use by the supervisory staff as a guide. All the staff members are to be furnished with a list of procedures that is to be followed in case of fire emergency. Instructions on fire safety and fire emergency are posted regularly in all the employees work areas.

The hotels should conduct regular trainings to ensure that the hotelkeepers are familiar with the operation of various machines. For instance, a solid-bonded 3-hinged corridor door that has a UL-listed hardware requires in depth training and practice in order to ensure that the hotelkeeper comprehends the mode of operation. In addition, they are trained on evacuation procedures, how to control fire hazards in hotels, and how to operate the voice communication systems.

The hotelkeeper must ensure that the communication systems are operating at all times. To ensure that they operate normally, a regular testing, inspection and maintenance must be done. There must be a record that indicates the times and dates of inspection. The sprinkler systems must remain open in the event of fire until the fire is seen to be under control. In design and installation, the Act directs an electrical supervision of the fire alarm system.

The fire alarms’ installation and modification must adhere to NFPA code 72. Hotels should have two sources of power that are able to supply the system for 24 hours under normal operation. The source of power should also be able to sound the fire alarm for five minutes in a consecutive manner. These practices also comply with the environmental practices that dictate that life of a human being is paramount and should be protected at all cost.

The hotel industry uses different fire protective systems and equipments to contain these scenarios. For instance, hotels use fire alarm systems. The system should either be manual or automatic and be installed in all guest rooms at reachable heights. These devices are installed in a manner that they operate independently, that is, failure of one system does not affect the operation of the other fire alarms. Moreover, the hotels must locate the system next to the entrance.

This location is visible and easily accessible to the fire departments. These features enhance the quality of protection against fire. Fire sprinklers are also used in hotels to prevent or minimize the effects of fire outbreaks. The installation of a fire sprinkler must be in line with the NFPA 16 that provides the minimum requirement that one must consider before the installation process.

For example, the design of the system must within the required density as this acts as the control factor in their areas of application. In the US, sprinklers are used to stop small fires and have generally saved lives. Therefore, Fire sprinklers are used at the initial stages of fire outbreak.

Notably, fire that starts in a single room can grow to within a short time and cover the entire storey building. These sprinklers have proved helpful in US. In one scenario of 1986, the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire killed close to 97 people within 12 minutes. Fire sprinklers are extremely sensitive that they switch on and stop the fire thereby minimizing the chances of smoke development, which is the major source of killers in fire accidents.

They are designed in a manner that makes them stop fire within a twinkle of a minute. This made them to be referred to as flashover. Sprinklers are installed in hotel corridors and guest rooms with adequate spacing. Travelers are advised to confirm if the hotels they intend to use have fire sprinklers as required by the above act.

Further, smoke detectors are in use in most hotels. They have various units in all rooms. They are installed in compliance with the NFPA 92 standard (“Fire Safety Policies.”). The standard is applicable in designing, installing, operation, and continuous testing of the smoke detectors. The standard incorporates the basic physics on the flow of smoke, ways of controlling smoke, information support on technology, and different testing and maintenance methods.

This central point will be under the supervision of the officer in charge and is furnished with an efficient communication system. There is also the emergency lighting systems that are on standby mode. They are able to operate in case fire has originated from the electrical system.

They are installed in every rooms and corridors. Since during fire outbreaks, people tend to use any route for safety, there are always Emergency egress systems that give evacuation routes to the ground. The system is a requirement by the building codes and environmental health practices.

The staircases and the corridors are essential parts of the hotels that require proper construction. Environmental health practices involve instituting measures of preventing hazards and health supportive measures. Some deaths during fire outbreaks result from falls on staircases or inability to use the designed routes.

Exits and exit signs also assist hotels in eradicating fatalities resulting from fire. Qualified fire technicians install these directional signs on buildings. The signs direct people to exits that are near. Environmental health encompasses both built and natural environment; the concerns include, housing, disaster preparedness, occupational health and safety, and radiological health among others.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has rolled out information programs that have enabled people access information on environmental health perspectives, risk factors, and preventive measures. Human beings should ensure that their safety is supreme by practicing the preventive measures.

Housing is one of the common areas that touch on human safety; their construction and finishing materials like paints and cements can cause hazards. Some categories of paints, for instance, catch fire easily; this is extremely dangerous. People spend most of their time in these structures. Houses are commonly meant for security purposes; people tend to forget the other aspect of physical, biological, and chemical hazards that are consequences of house design.

Some of the hazards are revealed in a close study of American deaths. Between November 1980 and February 1981, the country recorded over 125 deaths in a span of three months due to house fires. Houses with inadequate fire prevention machineries record more deaths than those houses with proper fire prevention techniques. These are due to poor designs and maintenance of hotels and hostels in the Universities.

On chemical hazards, poor ventilators and continued burning of charcoal and gas boilers can release carbon monoxide that chokes and causes death. For instance, carbon monoxide alone has caused over 60 deaths annually in England. The nature of the hotels makes it easy for easy fire outbreak and spread.

Since most of the world population reside in low and middle income areas where there are unhealthy slum houses, they also uses hotels in the low class regions; therefore, there is need to enhance house safety even among the low class. Countries should initiate programs aiming at modifying their existing houses.

The WHO should ensure that the guidelines are adopted in all the Member State nations. Moreover, a carefully prescribed methodology that demands routine checks and tests on house safety should be used in all constructions in future. The survey combines before and after testing and checking of housing conditions.

Such building regulations on design are good for health. Markedly, trade-offs in design, for instance, higher energy efficiency can enable low-income earners to afford safe houses. In England and Wales, there have been the Housing Health and Safety Rating System that give an assessment based on the health risks and hazards of all hotels (“Hotel Fire Safety Act.”).

This initiative improves the fitness standards of houses by eliminating health hazards like heat, carbon dioxide, and lead paints, which could aid the spread of fire. In fact, the WHO has tried to institute measures to the extent of legal implications and fee levies on wrong house designs. Human safety in the world remains a solemn subject that requires involvement of every person.

This regulation ensures that workers are protected at their workplaces like in the hotel industry. Operating with flammable substances like petroleum products are risky ventures that require proper protection methods. Therefore, employers should ensure that the safety of their workers is paramount by following all the provisions of OHS act (“Hotel Fire Safety Act.”).

The OHS act upholds high level of mental and physical well-being of workers when at the workstations. For instance, in the United States, injuries and deaths from the hotel industry were three times the injuries and deaths from all the remaining industries.

To mitigate these complications, industries should have a properly laid safety policy and insurance policies like workers compensation. The hotel industry, for instance, should use proper safety equipment to avert impeding risks. Further, there should be clear health and safety regulations that the Construction Design Management Coordinator must ensure that all the workers follow. The Coordinator must ensure that they install fire detector machines in the hotels during the construction period.

Those who smoke within the premises should be liable for a penalty. The OHS professionals ought to evaluate all working environments to certify if they conform to the required standards, inform employers to develop measures that will minimize deaths and injuries and carry out OHS awareness among workers and customers so that they can raise the alarm in case of disobedience by the employers.

In OHS, risk assessment procedures include hazard identification, identification of those affected by the hazard and to the extent, evaluating the risk and, then, identifying and prioritizing control measures. This process is done in a practical manner. OHS remains an essential health concern since human being must work to earn a living, and there are different working environments, which have different impacts on the safety of individuals.

During electrical operations, cases of electrical abuse arise. This can be due to use of thin wires in transferring electric power from one point to another. A thin wire easily becomes hot and can explode due to electrical overload. This is a form of electrical fire hazard. On appliances, cooking and heating devices must be unplugged when not in use (“Residential Life Fire Safety.”).

There should also be regulations on the type of device that is allowed within the university premises. In addition, space heaters are only permitted in hotels if they are protected using non-conductors of electricity.

Detecting fire can help to control it. To detect fire, Automatic sprinkler system should be installed in both students and administration apartments. Water should be in pipes all the time to each sprinkler headed; a heat sensing mechanism. It is activated to sense temperature changes but on the contrary, this machine does not sense smoke.

Every sprinkler head operates on its own, 15 to 30 gallons of water under pressure in every minute is required to operate it. Students should ensure that nothing is hanged on sprinkler heads; can lead to flooding hence water damage. In addition, a minimum of 18 inches should be kept away from the sprinkler machine; this will enable it to reduce its effectiveness in case fire erupts (“Residential Life Fire Safety.”).

Opening windows in stair towers during winter is very dangerous, as some are not heated sufficiently to prevent water in the pipes from freezing, hence causing leakages from broken pipes. According to Chester University, cooperation is needed for the machine to operate as designed failure to which not only students but also the entire university will suffer in case of fire hazard.

The university administration should ensure that student’s hostels are not overcrowded with electric wires, proper hygiene should be maintained, and students failing to abide by the law should be disciplined; fine to be imposed on them or be vacated from their accommodations without financial credit for the remaining semester. Residential or lecture halls should be inspected regularly to confirm if students are abiding by the university rules and regulations. This will ensure the safety and health status of the whole university.

The staff in charge of maintenance should ensure that smoke detectors like carbon monoxide are checked at least two times a year, they should not be blocked; this ensures that they are properly connected all the time and the damaged ones are disconnected and replaced. Universities should prohibit any student from touching the smoke detectors or attach anything on them.

Furthermore, fire extinguishers should be checked monthly to ensure they are properly located and fully charged. All university should come up with an Emergency Action plan, which outlines its responsibilities including the escape routes in case of an emergency fire. The University should offer Training on safety measures to resident directors to keep them alert on fire related techniques like fire evacuation procedures and use fire extinguishers.

The Emergency Action leaders to respond to any fire drill or actual fire should fill a statement of incident. Students should adopt a routine of ensuring that any exit is in order and safe but it should be hasty. The university administration should ensure that there is no cooking in the students’ respective hostels. No heat-producing items should be allowed, unless authorized. If they come across any, the appliances must be taken away and disposed immediately and fines charged the victims.

If any student repeats the mistake, a fine of $100 can be imposed to the student. On the other hand, certain coffee makers and hair dressing equipments can be authorized but should not be used in any hazardous way. This fire safety policy minimises fire accidents that occurs as a result of cooking. The candle policy restricts students from using candles and halogen lamps; no heat producing appliances should be found in the students’ hostels.

Universities should ensure generators are available when there is power blackout. Any student found violating this policy; he/she should face the penalty of $50 to $100 per lamp, after which no warning is issued. Alarms in the hostels should only be used in case of fire, if not, activation of the alarm leads to a fine of $100 and no warning is issued after that.

Students should be alerted as earlier as possible for safety evacuation. No student should play around with the alarms as it can cause disturbance and confusion to the entire university, and in case of fire, it can hinder safety in evacuation. To reduce nuisance alarms, university should ensure that a penalty of $50 to $200 is issued to students who do not respect the policy. In case it originates from a particular room because of cooking, the occupant of the room pay the fine (“Residential Life Fire Safety.”).

If the habit continues more than 3 times, the appliances are confiscated or they vacate the room with an immediate effect. No student should be authorized to remove the fire extinguishers from their proper location. Anyone going against this rule should face a disciplinary staff and forced to pay a fine of $100 for every extinguisher or to every student.

Smoke accumulates inside houses and if inhaled; it increases the risk of contracting lung cancer. In Britain, it is believed that radon is responsible for 20 cases of lung cancer, leukemia and skin cancer. Housing conditions cause nervous system, cardiovascular, respiratory/chronic diseases and cancer.

In US, lead and chemical hazards, which are used in paints, are common contaminants. Water infiltration in houses is a leading cause for pest infiltration such as mice and rats. Since most of the world population reside in low and middle income areas where there are unhealthy slum houses, there is need to enhance house safety even among the low class. Countries should initiate programs aiming at modifying their existing houses.

The WHO should ensure that the guidelines are adopted in all the Member State nations. Moreover, a carefully prescribed methodology that demands routine checks and tests on house safety should be used in all constructions in future. The survey combines before and after testing and checking of housing conditions. Such building regulations on design are good for health. Such houses discourage growth of moulds and allow free indoor airflow.

In England and Wales, there have been the Housing Health and Safety Rating System that give an assessment based on the health risks and hazards of all houses. This initiative improves the fitness standards of houses by eliminating health hazards like cold, heat, falls, damp and mould, carbon dioxide, radon and lead paints. In fact, the WHO has tried to institute measures to the extent of legal implications and fee levies on wrong house designs. Human safety in the world remains a solemn subject that requires involvement of every person.

One of the organizations that are involved in university housing fire safety is the Campus Fire Safety Organization (CFSO). CFSO ensures that campuses are safe from fire as since it provide a room for campuses to collect and share ideas. This organization is supported through kindness, as it is an-profitable resource. Those committed with it exchange information from different experts devoted in protecting all college and university communities.

Secondly, the Centre for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS), being a non-profitable organization, is dedicated to minimise life lost from fire that occur in the universities. Its main objective is to promote the safety of campuses against fire. CCFS collects information from different universities relating to safety of universities, thereby acting as a clearinghouse for information.

Further, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a private organization aimed a serving the world in fire relating incidences (“Fire Safety Policies.”). NFPA authorizes, develops and publish sources on public safety in the NFPA Standard 101. It adopted the safety standards from the Texas State Fire and used it in state building.

Fire Prevention Issues in University Housing are in broad category. The most common is the no smoking policy within the University premises. This policy shows that it is highly possible to control fire in residential halls than in off-campus residences. Tufts University has made this policy a mandatory.

In addition, the University of Massachusetts has made all public places in the institution non-smoking areas. The areas are the residences, lecture halls, and other fraternities. In a broader perspective, the University of Colorado has viewed smoking as a threat to public health.

The policy covers students, employees, contractors, and visitors in the institution. This policy helps the institution provide a comfortable and favorable learning environment for its staff and students. The institution has gone further to initiate cessation programs that assist addicts from quitting smoking (“Campus Fire Safety: Safety Tips for Students & Parents.”). This act directly affects the life of an individual and the environment.

Environmental protection involves practices that human beings can institute to lower environmental degradation. Those who violate this policy are subjected under disciplinary actions.

Since smoking can cause fire in institutions, this policy helps in preventing fire outbreaks. In addition, students should attend to their cooking at all times. This is a key cause for residential fires. Overheating of cooking oils can cause fire if a splash of fire gets into contact with the overheated oil. Those who cook food should use pans to cover fire that in order to avoid spillage in a large area.

Another preventive measure in the University housing is ensuring that all smoke and CO detectors are left running throughout (“Campus Fire Safety: Safety Tips for Students & Parents.”). Smoke detectors are life saving devices, as they give an early alert on life threatening situations like fire. Moreover, CO, which is a byproduct of fire is causes silent deaths. The Tufts University has been monitoring these fire detection devices. Those who tamper with them are fined and imprisoned; this act is a criminal offence.

Hotels and University housings have tried to employ numerous standards in order to eliminate the effects of fire in their departments. From the above discussion, the detection measures employed by these two distinct institutions have made it possible for them to mitigate the adverse effects of fire. The numerous safety precautions that the university requires students to follow have worked towards reducing the fatalities.

For instance, students are taught on how to use the 911-call system to notify the fire department, inspection on overload cases in electrical appliances, careful disposal of smoking materials, and regular tests for fire alarm and smoke alarm systems. There should be regulations on combustible contents like furniture, regulation of appliances like refrigerators, and controlling the use of open flames like smoking and candles.

Works Cited

Campus Fire Safety: Safety Tips for Students & Parents. U.S. Fire Administration | Working for a Fire-Safe America. FEMA, 29 Jan. 2013. Web.

Fire Safety Policies. Princeton University – Welcome. The Trustees of Princeton University, 27 Sept. 2012. Web.

Hotel Fire Safety Act. IKLIM LTD . N.p., n.d. Web.

Residential Life Fire Safety. UMass Amherst Residential Life. University of Massachusetts Amherst, 8 Feb. 2013. Web.

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