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Implications of a False Fire Alarm Activation

Tecerv UK CEO Grahame Tilley, had an overnight stay to forget after a false fire alarm activation in the middle of the night caused havoc for guests staying at a leading hotel chain. Grahame describes his experience, how the hotel staff dealt with the incident, the effect on the guest experience, and highlights the financial cost this false alarm activation caused.

Recalling the incident Grahame commented, “Whilst away racing in Scotland, I had booked to stay overnight in a room provided by a leading hotel chain. At 1am I was woken to the sound of the fire alarm and naturally my response was to get up and exit the hotel as quickly as possible. When I reached the hotel lobby, I saw the hotel night porter struggling to turn off the alarm via the control panel.  Having been stood outside for quite some time observing him, I approached the gentleman to ask if he needed any help. I was able to explain to him how to operate the control panel and he was subsequently able to reset the alarm and allows guests to return to their rooms.”

Whilst the porter was pushing button after button on the control panel, the alarm was still ringing and all the hotel guests and staff had been evacuated and were congregating at the designated safety point. Many were half dressed and shoeless due to the need to evacuate quickly. It was clear that there was a serious lack of training when it came to how to deal with this type of situation.”

“Clearly, if indeed any training had taken place, the staff on duty on this particular night had forgotten the instructions on how to operate the control panel in the event of a fire. The fact that the person was also trying to turn off the alarm without first identifying the trigger point was of deep concern. Firstly, because no-one had actually investigated if there was an actual fire, and secondly because without knowing which device had caused the false alarm, the alarm could be triggered again, causing yet another false alarm and a building evacuation that would inconvenience people further!”

For many, a false alarm call may seem like a mundane event, but the consequences for this particular hotel chain were far from insignificant. Brought to you by none other than Lenny Henry himself, the hotel in question prides itself on providing “A good night’s sleep guaranteed or money back.”

Fortunately for Grahame the hotel did honour its promise of a refund, but the financial implications of providing every hotel guest a refund, will surely be felt for a while yet longer.

Colin Milligan

Colin joined Tecserv UK Ltd in 2010. He has been in the fire and security industry for 30 years + and in that time has held a number of senior positions. His experience helps to bring focus and growth to our sales and marketing strategy by being objective driven and KPI measured.

Posted on: 27 September 2016
Last updated: 25 May 2021
Posted in: Advice
Author: Colin Milligan