A few years ago I took my family to a resort on Cape Cod for winter break, and I spent this past weekend at the same resort.  On our first visit, I found a lot to write about…the hinges on all of the cross-corridor doors had been modified (sometimes very badly) and were no longer code-compliant for fire doors, the fire doors connecting the 8 buildings were propped open with wedges and the latches had been removed, the swimming pool egress doors were questionable, and there were a few other issues.

Last week when I was trying to make a reservation at the resort and had a hard time getting through, my husband said, “They’re not answering because they know it’s you.  You called the fire marshal last time.”  Sometimes I hesitate to report problems, because I feel like I’m tattling, or I don’t want to get the facility in trouble, or I worry that the fire marshal will think I’m annoying.  But then I think about how I would feel if something happened and my phone call might have helped to prevent a problem.  Everyone always thinks it won’t happen to them or to their building, but “what if?”

As we returned to the hotel from dinner on Saturday night, I noticed from the parking lot that the fire alarm had been activated.  The kids of course wanted to go in and “check it out” (have I taught them NOTHING?).  We went around to the main lobby where the hotel staff had evacuated everyone from the rooms and the swimming pool (imagine a crowd in their jammies and bathing suits), while the fire department investigated the location of the alarm.  There were rumors of a smoky smell and the firefighters checked each room looking for the problem.  I think they eventually chalked it up to a faulty smoke detector and we later saw one being replaced, but if there was an actual fire the propped-open, non-latching fire doors wouldn’t be much help in preventing the spread of smoke and flames.

There is good news though.  While many of the same issues still exist at this hotel, some magnetic holders have been added.  They’re not pretty, but they work – the doors did close during the fire alarm.  (I would have used the 4040SEH x 4111-Cush here.)

Corridor Door - Pull Side

Corridor Door - Push Side

Floor Mounted Hold-Open

I noticed an interesting dimple on the wall stop in my room, and I knew right away what it was for.  Since the room doors should all be 20-minute rated, this creative hold-open is a code issue.

Wall Stop and Holder

Wall Stop and Holder 2

Room Door Open

Not a code issue, but I noticed this security “situation” on the remote entry door to our building.  Note the card reader and Knox Box, which aren’t really needed since the door won’t latch.  I’m also wondering about the random wall stop.  Maybe the door swing was changed at some point but the wall stop remains.

Card Reader

Not Latching

When you stay in a hotel, keep your eyes open for problems and send me some photos.  The more we can educate people with regard to these problems, the safer our buildings will be! 

If you’re wondering whether the threat of fire in hotels is worth losing sleep over, check out the NFPA statistics.

US Federal Government employees are required to stay in fire-safe hotels when on official travel.  Check the list before your next hotel stay.

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