Lots of travelers don’t realize that a deadly fire hazard danger exists in many hotels and motels around the country. Many older hotels and motels can legally avoid installing sprinklers that stop blazes before they kill guests. Since a catastrophic fire killed 87 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas in 1980, a national push to require sprinkler systems in new hotels and motels has helped bring fire deaths down significantly. Even so, federal officials estimate that 3,900 hotel and motel fires are reported to fire departments across the country each year, causing on average 15 deaths, 150 injuries and $76 million in property losses. The lack of sprinklers in many older facilities has to be a big problem. The National Fire Protection Association says it’s rare for a guest to die when a fire breaks out in a room with sprinklers. In fact, they say there hasn’t been a documented fire in a “sprinklered” hotel that killed more than one person.
While newer hotels must install sprinklers, older ones don’t have to. A study by the U.S. Fire Administration for 2005-2007 found that about 60% of hotels and motels reporting fires lacked sprinklers. The National Fire Protection Association also found that every single fire death from 2002 to 2005 was in a motel or hotel that lacked a sprinkler system. More recent statistics aren’t available.
In Alabama, all motel and hotel rooms must have smoke detectors, but sprinkler requirements vary by city. The Alabama Legislature should take a serious look at this safety problem next year. Persons who stay in hotels and motels need to be protected in the event of a fire, and sprinkler systems are needed for that reason. When sprinkler systems are not available, the facilities should make that known to all potential guests.
Source: Associated Press
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