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Fire Research Notes


Chandler, S.E., 1968. FIRES IN HOTELS. Fire Research Notes 737


Recent loss of life in hotel fires and similar occupancies in which there are large numbers of people at risk has prompted this study of reports of hotel fires attended by fire brigades, of which the annual frequency is about 700. The reports used for the study were those of fires attended during 1966. The proportion of fires that occur during sleeping hours in hotels is nearly twice that in private dwellings. 'Smoking materials' is the most frequently reported cause, accounting for over 20 per cent of the fires, compared with about 9 per cent in private dwellings. Fires attributed to cooking and space heating appliances, electric wire and cable, are also quite common. About 20 per cent of the fires start in kitchens - these are mainly during the day-time; fires starting in bedrooms and bedsitters amount to 17 per cent of the total. About 11 per cent of the fires start in halls and bars; nearly half of these are discovered during the sleeping hours and smoking materials account for a high proportion of them. About 53 per cent of the fires are tackled before the arrival of the brigade and nearly half of these are extinguished before the arrival of the brigade. About three-quarters of the fires which require brigade attention are confined to the room of origin. At least half of the fires occur in premises built before 1900. Most of the hotels have timber floors and timber is also prominent in the construction of the roofs. There is evidence to suggest that fires in older buildings are more likely to spread than those in more recent ones. One incident, in which there was extremely rapid spread, led to five deaths. During the year there were nine fatal and 41 non-fatal casualties. In those incidents involving casualties which spread beyond the room of origin, the spread nearly always resulted from a door being left open or from an unenclosed staircase.

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