2 pages not includ the title or reference
identify the main topic/question
critique the article and share your thoughts on what appears to be valid or invalid
thoughts on whether you agree with the author's position, and why, or why not?
Work 54 (2016) 461-471
Can fire safety in hotels be improved?
Results from the survey of a panel
of experts in Spain
Juan Carlos Rubio-Romero, Francisco Marquez-Sierra and Manuel Su ´ arez-Cebador ´ ∗
University of M´ alaga, M´ alaga, Spain
Received 27 February 2014
Accepted 15 January 2015
BACKGROUND: The hotel industry is an important driver of the European labourmarketwith over 250,000 hotels employing
some 2 million people. In Spain, 240 workers were injured by fires in hotels from 2004 to 2008. Fire is considered to be the
most important risk in the hotel industry, but the lack of an EU-wide data recording system for hotels makes it difficult to
give exact figures for fire events.
OBJECTIVE: We analysed the state of fire prevention systems in hotels in Spain with the aim of proposing strategies to
improve fire safety.
METHODS: A 10-item questionnaire was administered from 2007 to 2009 to 15 Spanish experts in fire safety. The questions
were measured using a Likert scale and classified into 4 sections: current state of installations, influence of establishment
characteristics, application of regulations and priority ranking of actions. Descriptive statistics summarized the data and
t-tests evaluated the agreement foreach statement in the questionnaire.
RESULTS: The statistical analysis showed homogeneity in the responses by the experts in all four categories: current state
of fire safety installations, influence of establishment characteristics, application of regulations, and priority of actions. There
was consensus among the experts over the necessity to improve the enforcement of regulations and also regarding the existence
of an association between the hotel category (in Spain they are ranked using a 1 to 5 "star" rating system) and the level of
fire safety; hotels with a higher category had higher levels of safety.
CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to identify ways to apply fire safety standards to older hotels so that they comply with new
regulations, to standardize regulations for different regions and countries, to improve the maintenance of installations and
equipment, to increase the effectiveness of inspections conducted by government bodies, and to raise the general awareness
of stakeholders involved in hotel fire prevention.
Keywords: Fire safety experts, hotel safety improvement, fire safety regulations, priority in fire safety actions
Due to the economic importance of tourism for
countries such as Spain, a careful study of all of
∗Address for correspondence: M. Suarez, es University of ´
Malaga, E.T.S.I.Industriales, C/Dr. Ortiz Ramos, s/n (Teatinos), ´
29071 Malaga, Spain. Tel.: +34 633 888 093; E-mail: ´
suarez [email protected]
the factors that may affect its structure, development,
competitiveness, quality and image is called for. The
sector's importance in the Spanish economy is not
an isolated phenomenon; tourism, technology and
communications are at the forefront of world trade
According to data from the World Tourism Organisation, international tourist arrivals reached 983
1051-9815/16/$35.00 © 2016 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved
462 J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved?
Top 10 countries ranking of international tourist arrivals
1 France 83.0 Not available
2 United States 66.7 69.8
3 Spain 57.5 60.7
4 China 57.7 55.7
5 Italy 46.4 47.7
6 Turkey 35.7 37.8
7 Germany 30.4 31.5
8 United Kingdom 29.3 31.2
9 Russian Federation 25.7 28.4
10 Thailand 22.4 26.5
Source: World Tourism Organization .
million in 2011 and continue to grow at a rate of
4%, underlining the importance of tourism worldwide. The impact that these figures have on some
countries, such as Spain, is clear considering that only
10 countries (see Table 1) account for almost half the
international tourism demand worldwide, and Spain,
with 60.7 million international tourists is ranked third
. The magnitude and the strategic nature of this
sector in Spain is evident. In 2011 it accounted for
10.8% of GDP, provided net revenues of 32,425 million Euros, as measured in the balance of payments,
and also represented 12.2% of national employment
. To fully understand the extent of this matter the
Spanish Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism's
Institute of Tourism Studies has provided some figures for the national hotel sector. In 2012 there were
19,149 hotels with 1,838,958 beds, and a total of
83,182,533 tourists, of which 43,047,776 were Spanish residents and 40,134,757 came from abroad .
This leads us to the conclusion that encouraging
fire protection safety in the tourism sector around
the world is vital not only for safety, but also economic security. In fact, fire damage and fire protection
worldwide represent significant costs that the Geneva
Association  classifies under six headings: damage
caused by fire, indirect damage, loss of life, cost of
fire-fighting organisations, costs related to fire insurance and fire protection for buildings. The World Fire
Statistic Bulletin provides global figures for the direct
economic costs and human losses caused by fires in
general (see Table 2).
If we focus on fires that have occurred in hotels,
available data show that human, material and economic losses are high both in Spain  and the rest
of theworld. For example, fire departments in theU.S.
responded to an estimated average of 3,700 structure
fires per year at hotel or motel properties from 2006
Annual average estimate of the direct economic costs and human
losses from fires in the 2007-2009 period
Country Currency Millions Deaths
(x 100,000 hab.)
United States $ 16 1.17
United Kingdom £ 1,817 0.76
Germany D 2,95 0.6
France D 3,975 0.96
Italy D 3,133 0.46
Spain D 910 0.54
Source: Geneva Association: World Fire Statistic Bulletin .
to 2010 . Annually these fires causedan average of
12 civilian deaths, 143 civilian injuries, and losses
of $127 million in direct property damage . In
Europe the hotel industry is an important driver of
the labour market, with over 250,000 hotels, nearly
15 million beds and some 2 million workers. However,comparable data for fire events in all European
countries is not available. The absence of such data
can be attributed to the fact there is little incentive for
hotel owners and municipalities to provide this information since reported fires, particularly in holiday
areas, can damage the reputation of an establishment
or tourist destination . Nevertheless, authors such
as Kemola recognize the important implications of
fires in European hotel establishments . In the case
of Spain no conclusive data is available on the number
of fires in hotels. However, Ministry of Employment
and Social Security statistics show that 240 workers
from the hotel industry were injured in firesfrom 2003
to 2012 . In that period 8 workers were seriously
injured, 5 were very seriously injured, and one died.
It should be noted that other authors have also recognized that the number of reported fires in hotels
only represents a small partof the total . Whatever the case, it is clear that any building of this
nature, regardless of the category its been awarded,
for example in the commonly used 1 to 5 "star" rating system , is not completely safe from fire
and the final consequences will depend on its safetyconditions. Proof of this is the report presented
at the Fourth International Forum on Fire Safety
in Hotels , where different cases were presented that occurred in the summer of 2010 both
in Spain: Hotel Ritz***** (Madrid), Hotel Hesperia Playa Dorada**** (Tenerife), Hotel Miraolas***
(Asturias), Hotel Brasil** (Alicante), Hotel Balear
Beach* (Mallorca); and in the rest of the world:
Victoria Hotel in Skelmersdale (UK),Soma Hotel
(Iraq), Hotel Caribean Paradise**** (Mexico), Hotel
Patagonia Plaza**** (Argentina), Caribbean Hilton
J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved? 463
Hotel***** (Puerto Rico), Willard Intercontinental
Hotel (USA), and Imperial Hotel***** (Japan). The
variables that play a part in the causes of hotel fires,
how they spread and the steps taken to fight them
are many and varied . They include the age, size
and type of premises, access and evacuation routes,
the characteristics of the building, the availability
of alarm systems and their type, fire-fighting equipment, evacuation or personal protection equipment.
It is not easy, therefore, to describe the state of fire
safety in the sector. However, the applicable legislation to prevent hotel fires is considered an essential
element to guarantee user and worker safety. Thus, in
its report of 27 June 2001 the European Commission
was already drawing attention to deficiencies in this
area by highlighting the failure to comply with EEC
Recommendation 86/666 on fire safety in hotels .
Yet it is interesting to note that fire safety requirements in hotels not only vary between the countries
in the European Union but also differ significantly
from those in countries like the United States. For
example, as an indication of the importance given by
the U.S. government to the presence of fire prevention measures in hotels, when travelling on official
business federal agents are required to spend at least
90% of travel nights at hotels listed in the federal
register of approved accommodation. Similarly, the
United States Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act (PL
101-391) was approved by the U.S. Congress in order
to save lives and protect hotel property. This law is
applicable to all places providing accommodation to
the public and requires all rooms in hotels more than
three stories high to be equipped with smoke detectors
and automatic sprinklers . In contrast "sprinkler
systems are not common in European hotels" and,
according to Stewart Kidd of the British Automatic
Sprinkler Association, it is estimated that less than
3% of European hotels have automatic sprinkler systems in their rooms. A certain degree of unification
in legislative goals is, therefore, desirable .
In view of the frequency of fires in hotels and
the serious impact it can have in both human
and economic terms, research in this field is
clearly important. Thus, prior to the research presented in this report, the authors carried out a
field study of fire safety in hotels based on a
technical and documentary analysis of their fire
prevention systems. Among other points it was
concluded that safety standards were influenced
by the location of the hotel (cities, beach/tourist
resort or rural/isolated areas), but were not significantly affected by the hotel's category, based on
the 1 to 5 "star" rating system used in Spain .
It was also observed that as hotels increased in size,
fire prevention tended to be better .
In light of the results obtained in the previous study
mentioned above, it was decided that a quantitativequalitative study should be conducted, which would
enable us to compare the conclusions of the earlier
quantitative study with the opinions of experts in
the field, the ultimate goal being to prioritize certain strategic lines of action to improve fire safety
protection conditions in hotel establishments.
2. Material and methods
2.1. Study participants
The study was carried out using the staticized
group technique . Methodologically, this technique is very similar to the Delphi method, but in the
staticized group technique there are no iterations and
the experts do not have access to the group'sresponses
to avoid any influence on their views . Some comparative studies on the application of both methods
found no substantial differences in their degree of
accuracy [19, 20]. Other studies, however, showed a
significant increase in the use of the staticized group
technique as it is considered to be more accurate than
using the Delphi method [21, 22]. Based on this, it
was decided to use the staticized technique to conduct
The staticized group technique was applied in individual personal interviews with a panel of 15 experts
in fire safety. This number of experts is considered
sufficient when using group techniques to provide
qualitative-quantitative information .
The interviews were conducted by the authors of
this research from October 2007 to July 2009.
It was considered desirable for the experts to be as
representative as possible and to belong to different
groups in the fire prevention field, both from the viewpoint of their training and professional experience
and their geographical origins . The objective
was to obtain a broad view of the situation in Spain
from the perspective of representative professional
groups which are directly linked to fire prevention.
These include: Technical Experts working for the
Spanish central government and the governments of
Spain's autonomous regions, Technical Managers of
monitoring bodies authorised by the government to
conduct inspections of fire prevention systems, Technical Managers of private companies engaged in fire
464 J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved?
prevention, Technical Officers from different Fire
Extinction and Rescue Services (SEI), Safety Project
Heads from engineering companies engaged in fire
prevention, University staff of recognised standing
in the field of fire prevention and Managers and
technical staff belonging to professional fire fighting
Thus, the safety experts were chosen based on the
following criteria: qualifications in the area of fire
safety, more than 10 years professional experience in
fire safety, position held is related to fire safety and
geographical location of fire safety experience.
The fire safety experts were approached through
personal contacts in different public administrations
and the 15 professionals in Table 3 agreed to participate in this research. The personal interviews and the
questionnaires were conducted from 2007 to 2009.
2.2. Study instruments
A questionnaire was specifically designed for the
purpose, based on the results obtained in the previous
research study . This previous research involved
visits to a total of 146 hotels in 2004. In order to
examine the fire safety of these facilities we made
use of the official checklist of the responsible Spanish
administrative body, which contains the documentary
and technical requirements contained in the current
fire protection regulations for buildings in Spain.
The questionnaire (see Table 4) contained 10 questions classified into 4 groups. The first nine were
answered by the experts on a scale of 1 to 5, based
on the Likert scale (1: "strongly disagree"; 2: "disagree"; 3: "neutral"; 4: "agree"; 5: "strongly agree").
The tenth question asked them to rank by order of
importance a series of measures to improve fire safety
2.3. Study design
This research was conducted by interviewing
human subjects and a combined quantitative and
qualitative approach was applied [24, 25]. The
authors of the study completed the quantitative part of
the questionnaire based on the answers provided by
the participating experts who were asked to respond
using a 5 point Likert scale . The experts also
provided free-text responses for each question, which
were transcribed by the researchers in order to conduct a qualitative analysis [27, 28] that would help
strengthen the quantitative results.
2.4. Statistical analysis
SPSS V.15.0 was used for the statistical analysis.
First a descriptive analysis was applied withmeasures
of central tendency and location including mean,
median and mode, plus measures of variability and
dispersion including the standard deviation and quartiles. Subsequently, an inferential analysis based on
a t-test was conducted to check the agreement with
the statements of each questionnaire item under these
• Ho: Expert agree/strongly agree with the statement.
• H1: Expert do not agree/strongly agree with the
The statistical significance threshold was set at
p < 0.05.
3. Results and discussion
The results of the descriptive statistical analysis
ofthe responses obtained from the interviews shows
a high degree of consistency among the expert with
regard to the current state of fire safety installations
(items 1 to 3), influence of establishment characteristics (items 4 to 7), application of regulations (items
7 to 9) and priority of actions (item 10). These results
are shown in Table 5.
The experts agreed or strongly agreed only with the
statements related to the application of regulations, in
the relation higher hotel category-higher safety, and
in the need for regular inspections with penalties in
the event of non-compliance.
Moreover, a selection of comments made by the
experts during the interviews are included to better illustrate the main findings and to facilitate the
reading and understanding of the results.They have
been classified into 4 subsections: current state of
installations, influence of establishment characteristics, application of regulations and priority ranking
3.1. Current state of installations
Regarding whether respondents consider fire
safety in Spanish hotels to be satisfactory, the median
and mode is three, very close to the mean (2.87).
This result confirms the opinion that the situation
is only minimally acceptable. The experts point
out that, although the application of the regulations
J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved? 465
List of experts consulted
Experts Qualification Post-Experience
Expert 1 University specialist in safety
Head of Corporate Safety Projects and Asset Protection at BELT IBERICA
Lecturer in fire prevention systems in the Master's course in Global Safety
organised by BELT IBERICA SA and the European University, Madrid.
Expert 2 Architectural Technician Station Officer, Fire Prevention and Extinction and Rescue Service,
Barcelona City Council
Expert 3 Technical Industrial Engineer,
Engineer in Fire Prevention,
Masters in Fire Prevention
Fire brigade instructor dealing with various areas, especially the behaviour
APTB2 representative in the SAFEHOTEL project.3
Co-author of the SAFEHOTEL training CD.
Expert 4 Merchant Navy Captain. General Secretary of the APTB.
Head of Bilbao Fire Service.
Author of La Protecci ´ on Contra Incendios en la industria (Fire Prevention
Expert 5 Industrial Diploma, Terrassa, and
Industrial Engineering Degree,
General Manager of Colt Espana SA ˜ 4 since 1989
Corporate Director of Grup Acieroid since 2007.
Chairman of Tecnifuego-Aespi, 1996 - 2002.
Expert 6 Head of Fire Service and Civil Protection, Cuenca City Council.
Expert 7 Architectural Technician and Higher
Diploma in Occupational Risk
Occupational Risk Prevention Technician.
Technical Specialist in Fire Extinction and Rescue Service, Vitoria City
Contributor to the journal Riesgos Laborales (Occupational Risk).
Expert 8 Architect Head of Operations Division, Barcelona Fire Service.
Head of Fire Prevention Division and General Services, Barcelona
Speaker on fire prevention regulations and co-writer of two guides to
drawing up emergency plans.
Expert 9 Graduate Industrial Engineer Technical Officer, Malaga Royal Fire Brigade.
Vice-Secretary of Spanish Professional Association of Technical
Specialists in Firefighting.
Member of the Technical Committee drawing up the Basic Document on
Fire Safety for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's Technical
Expert 10 Doctorate in Industrial Engineering
and Degree in Chemistry.
Director of Valencia City Council Fire Service.
Lecturer in Fire Dynamics.
14 years in fire service.
Fire investigator (Windsor, Nufri, Guadalajara, Benalmadena Waste ´
Treatment Plant, etc.)
Art´ıcles in Fire Technology.
Author of the book Din´ amica de fuego: Origen y causa de los incendios
(Fire Dynamics. Origin and Cause of Fires).
Expert 11 Head of Industrial Product Control Service, Sub-Directorate General for
Quality and Industrial Safety, Ministry for Industry, Tourism and Trade
Expert 12 Graduate Industrial Engineer and
Graduate in Economics.
Technical Officer, Malaga Royal Fire Brigade.
Expert 13 Graduate Industrial Engineer Head of SPEIS, Marbella.
Expert 14 University Expert in Criminology. Sergeant in Fire Service, Station Officer, City of Granada Fire Service.
Higher Diploma in Industrial
Electricity and Electronics.
Higher Diploma in SAP.
Expert 15 Architectural Technician and
Graduate in Law.
Fire Service Inspector, Head of Government of Catalonia Fire Service.
Lecturer at Barcelona Autonomous University. Took part in drawing up
the basic building regulations fire prevention code (NBE-CPI/96).
Contributor to numerous working groups on fire prevention in hotels.
and the theoretical initial state of the systems are
acceptable when they are new, issues such as dayto-day management, raising awareness of fire safety,
systems maintenance and staff training do not
reach the minimum standard necessary to maintain
those initial conditions. Some experts are especially
critical of the "perceived sense of safety", pointing
out that "in a real emergency these systems do not
466 J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved?
work because they are inadequate, staff are not properly trained, and buildings are badly designed, that
is, they are not correctly compartmentalised and they
are unable to dissipate smoke, gases and heat in the
event of a fire".
Regarding the correct design and use of the fire
prevention systems in hotels and their maintenance,
the results are underscored by the observations made
by the experts. They insist that greater attention must
be paid to system design and implementation, and
J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved? 467
relevant government bodies need to apply stricter
monitoring and inspection measures. They point
to "government bodies' inability to monitor adequately" and indicate that "system maintenance is not
always carried out by the best companies but by those
which provide the cheapest service". These findings
echo the conclusions of the previous study by the
authors of this paper , which found that 20% of
the systems analysed showed maintenance defects in
fire hose cabinets and 22.6% of them lacked smoke
detectors in bedrooms and corridors.
3.2. Influence of establishment characteristics
The fourth question asked whether the respondents agreed that fire prevention systems in hotels
and their maintenance vary according to their type
and location (cities, beach/tourist resorts, or more
isolated areas) and the fifth question asked specifically if the best conditions were found in cities.
The responses were very similar in the two cases,
with a mean value of 3.07, although they are more
spread out than in the case of the first question in
the survey. Apart from the quantitative assessment
given by the experts, their opinions centred on the
fact that although the regulations are the same for
everybody, their implementation varies from one scenario to another. According to the experts, this largely
depends on the availability of adequate technical and
human resources in the government bodies responsible for system surveillance and monitoring where
the hotel is located. In this regard differences can
be observed between large municipalities with more
resources at their disposal and small towns where
these are limited or even non-existent. A majority
of the experts considered that city hotels were problematic because access and evacuation were difficult,
their functioning and layout were complex, and some
of them occupied very high buildings. Some felt
that "small towns have fewer material and technical resources, which makes it impossible to monitor
systems thoroughly", while others thought that "the
greatest difficulties regarding access to hotels and
their evacuation are in cities". One aspect that the
experts consider crucial is the hotel management's
degree of safety awareness. They emphasized the fact
that "large hotel chains are more concerned about
Question six asked the experts if they believed
that systems for fire prevention and their maintenance
were better in hotels with a larger number of rooms
and a majority disagreed with this statement (only 6
out of 15 agreed or strongly agreed). They felt that
the state of fire prevention systems depended more
on the owners' interest than the size of the hotel.
It must also be considered that larger hotel buildings may not favour fire safety for several reasons:
greater distances must be covered during evacuation,
and higher and larger buildings in general make dealing with a possible fire more difficult. However, they
also pointed out that their greater size does oblige
them to have systems to protect the building against
large fires. At the same time the experts said that in
many cases large hotels belong to prestigious companies and large hotel chains. In order to maintain
their standing or to be able to sign contracts with
tour operators, they often feel obliged to have effective and properly maintained fire prevention systems,
leading to better fire safety conditions. Consequently,
the experts emphasise that the awareness of the owners and the attitude of the hotel's managers have a
greater influence than the size of the hotel.
For question seven, which asked if they agreed
with the statement that the higher the category of the
hotel (number of stars), the better the fire prevention system will be, the average of the responses was
3.67. The median and mode corresponded to answer
4 ("agree"), chosen by 9 out of the 15 people interviewed. The experts made a number of additional
comments on this question, pointing out that "a higher
category hotel necessarily involves the existence of
more services and larger premises (kitchens, saunas,
shops, event rooms, etc.), which implies the existence
of additional risks". Another point mentioned previously is that large hotels, which in many cases are part
of big hotel chains, have better systems because they
have a specific interest in offering good facilities. It
was also pointed out that the proper maintenance of
the systems, which is a basic factor in fire safety, is
often conducted more efficiently in higher category
hotels, although "this does not mean that all lower category hotels do not adequately maintain the condition
of their fire safety systems". Higher category hotels
will be more inclined to participate in the Safe hotel
programme, in which independent inspectors assess
the suitability of their safety systems. This fact would
support the idea that higher category hotels have better
firepreventionsystems.Manyhotelsindifferentcountries have taken part in this initiative, financed by the
EuropeanCommissionviatheLeonardoDaVinciprogramme. Most of them belong to major hotel chains,
andareusuallyhighercategoryhotels,reflectingatendency for such hotels to show more concern and be
more proactive concerning fire safety.
468 J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved?
3.3. Application of regulations
Question eight asks whether respondents believe
it is necessary for all hotels, including those in old
buildings, to be obliged to comply with the latest
legislation concerning fire safety. In Spain this is
the new Technical Building Code, enacted in 2006
. It should be pointed out that this particular
legislation allows greater flexibility in the design of
buildings, as it moves from strictly prescriptive regulations to regulations based on performance, inspired
by the European Union's New Approach Resolution
and in line with current construction trends in neighbouring countries. Most of the experts agreed with
the statement, making this question the one with
the highest level of consensus in the study. Their
legal and technical comments on this question and
those concerning safety indicate that applying the
rules retroactively could conflict with some fundamental principles of constitutional law. The experts
also pointed out that it seems logical to favour other
principles such as general interest or the protection
of life and safety, rather than regulations which cannot be applied retroactively. They emphasised that
this retroactive application could be implemented in
a similar way to occupational risk prevention, where
equipment must often be brought into line with regulations even when it was manufactured before the
regulations were approved. They thus consider that
themost appropriate policy, in the general interest and
to minimize the impact on the owners and managers
of buildings, would be to customize the modifications
for each hotel. This would involve the implementation of important technical advances in fire safety
from the Technical Building Code , but not if
they are excessively complex or technically unviable.
For example, Technical Building Code specifications
for the main structure of the building, the maximum
allowed area for each fire sector, or evacuation routes
and ceiling heights may run into major difficulties
if they are to be implemented in existing buildings.
In such cases the view of the experts is that supplementary measures should be studied. These should
be imaginative and adapted to individual cases with
a view to providing equivalent performance without
the need for impossible changes. In connection with
these comments, question ten below asked the experts
to prioritize measures for fire safety. The majority
indicated that the top priority should be compliance
by hotels with current regulations, highlighting the
need for hotel premises and their fire safety systems
to be in line with new legislation.
Answers given by the experts to the ninth question regarding whether compliance with regulatory
requirements for fire prevention in hotels varies from
one place to another, depending on how strictly they
are applied by the relevant government body, also
showed a high degree of consensus. Of the 15 respondents, 7 declared that they "strongly agreed" with the
statement, 5 of them were in agreement and only 3 of
them were indifferent to the statement. In their comments they identified various factors related to this
issue. The first has to do with legislation; although
the basic legislation is the same for all, each region,
and even each local council, can draw up additional
requirements. This can lead to situations in which
different authorities "play a greater or lesser role in
applying regulations and ensuring compliance with
them", thus generating a certain inequality in how
strictly the regulations are enforced. Another aspect
is the human and technical resources the relevant government body has at its disposal to verify projects,
their implementation, and subsequent monitoring.
The experts appear to agree that when the fire service is involved in the process of granting permits,
instead of other technical bodies which are not fire
specialists, the regulations are more strictly applied.
Indeed, there are experts who consider that "generally speaking Spanish government bodies are unable
to exercise sufficient control". The experts consulted
also generally agree that the correct design, implementation and maintenance of systems should be part
of safety awareness in the sector. The comprehensive,
permanent task of monitoring and inspection should
not be left to government bodies. An appeal has to be
made for responsibility by the sector itself (employers and staff). It should be emphasized that this is a
matter that concerns everyone and that better safety
standards make businesses more competitive.
3.4. Priority ranking of actions
Question ten asked the experts to rank by order
of importance a list of ways to improve fire safety
in hotels. The five options proposed were ordered as
1. Make sure all hotels meet current legal requirements.
2. Strict monitoring of system maintenance.
3. Appropriate ongoing training for hotel staff.
4. Regular simulations or fire drills.
5. Regular inspection with penalties in the event of
J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved? 469
Where 1 is "Highest priority" and 5 is "Lowest
The following points in individual responses were
also of interest.
1. The responses, as reflected in the standard deviation values shown in Table 5, show a wider spread
than for the other questions. It can be seen that all
of the answers have similar mode values, which
may be related to the different training and professional perspective of the participants. It can
also be observed that certain professional groups
place special emphasis on aspects which are seen
as secondary by other respondents. For example,
those experts whose work involves the extinction
of fires stress the importance of conducting simulations or drills, improving the training of hotel
staff and strictly monitoring the maintenance of
fire prevention systems.
2. As has already been mentioned, the top priority
from the list to improve fire safety is compliance
by hotels with current regulations; making sure
they apply the stricter standards to bring them
into line with the safety expectations of society. As pointed out above, this coincides with
the results from question eight which asked if
all hotels should be obliged to comply with current legislation. The responses to that question
showed the highest level of agreement for all of
the questions in the survey.
A limitation of this study is that this research is
based on the opinions of Spanish fire safety experts.
The specific regulations [30, 31] and circumstances
in other countries [32, 33] could lead to different
research results. To minimize this limitation it would
be necessary to conduct equivalent research in other
countries that would make it possible to draw global
conclusions aimed at promoting international regulations to improve fire safety in hotels.
The majority view of the experts is that the gradual
modification of older hotels to comply with current regulations is essential to improve fire safety
in those buildings. Since the retroactive nature of
the legislation may be contrary to fundamental legal
principles and not feasible in economic and technical terms, but at the same time the right to effective
protection against fires needs to be guaranteed, relevant measures which can be technically and legally
Experts' responses to questions 1 to 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Regulations Training Simulations Maintenance Inspections
Average 2.87 2.93 2.87 3.07 3.07 2.47 3.67 4.53 4.27 2.60 3.07 3.13 3.00 3.2
Mode 3 3 3 4 3-4 2-3 4 5 5 1 4 5 2-4 5
Standard deviation 0.83 0.80 0.92 1.49 1.16 1.13 1.05 0.64 0.8 1.55 1.39 1.55 1.13 1.57
Quartiles 25 2 2 2 1 2 2 3 4 4 1 2 2 2 2
50 (median) 3 3 3 4 3 2 4 5 4 2 3 3 3 3
75 3 4 4 4 4 3 4 5 5 4 4 5 4 5
interval of 95%
Lower 2.40 2.49 2.36 2.24 2.42 1.84 3.09 4.18 3.82 1.74 2.30 2.27 2.37 2.33
Upper 3.33 3.38 3.37 3.89 3.71 3.09 4.25 4.89 4.71 3.46 3.83 3.99 3.63 4.07
T-test t -5.87 -5.17 -5.17 -3.29 -4.03 -7.36 -1.00 -2.10 -1.87 -3.50 -2.61 -2.16 -3.42 -1.98
d.f. 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14
p value 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.005 0.001 0.000 0.334 0.054 0.082 0.003 0.020 0.048 0.004 0.068
470 J.C. Rubio-Romero et al. / Can fire safety in hotels be improved?
implemented need to be conscientiously analysed and
identified. Technical progress in this field may make
this task easier.
In the case of regulations, it is necessary to avoid
variations between different regions. In Spain, different safety standards exist in different parts of the
country.A study of legalmechanisms and processes is
therefore needed to ensure that this does not happen,
or that the effects are minimized.
To deal with the defective maintenance of systems and equipment, steps should be taken to ensure
that the legally stipulated maintenance programmes
for fire prevention systems are complied with. This
requires more effective inspection programs and,
where appropriate, penalties must be imposed by the
responsible authorities. An in-depth analysis of the
situation is needed to identify ways to improve the
work of the inspection bodies.
The lowest degrees of consensus were found with
regard to the influence of hotel establishment characteristics on fire safety conditions. Thus, according
to the experts, priorities for actions based on hotel
location, size or category could not be conclusively
Nevertheless, we consider that it is necessary to go
beyond mere formal compliance. Measures should be
identified to help increase the awareness of all of the
parties involved, and which make fire safety an integral part of the organisational structure of hotels at all
levels, management, staff, suppliers, customers, etc.
One such measure, which we consider essential, is
to provide adequate, permanent training for staff in
fire safety, emergencies and evacuation, so that their
response to any such event is safe, quick and coordinated. Other measures, such as regular simulations
and participation in fire safety quality certification
programmes, are also effective ways to improve fire
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflict of interest to report.
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