Magazine article Security Management

Inn Flammable?

Magazine article Security Management

Inn Flammable?

Article excerpt

The ghosts of children and dogs are said to run through the dining room at the Royalist Hotel, in Stow-on-the-Wold, England, but far more frightening is the prospect of present-day guests stampeding out of the room to escape a fire. Much of the structure contains old timbers, which inspectors fear could serve as prime tinder in a fire. Some of these date back to 947 A.D., lending credence to the hotel's claim as the oldest inn in England.

The presence of stone etchings and other ancient symbols in the hotel meant to ward off evil spirits notwithstanding, regulations require that the wooden doors between the dining room and the hall leading to the kitchen be closed. That's no problem most of the time, but it sometimes causes delays and mishaps for the servers at mealtimes. So when, almost a year ago, fire inspectors stopped by the hotel during dinner and found those doors propped open, they threatened to shut down the hotel.

On the recommendation of one of the inspectors, the hotel's owners purchased two battery-powered plastic devices containing retractable, padded rubber plungers (costing about $115 American each) from Dorgard Limited, Brighton, United Kingdom. They are screwed to the bottom of the doors to hold them open. If the fire alarm in the adjacent hall sounds, the devices pick up the signal emitted by the alarm and the plungers retract, causing the doors to shut and preventing a fire or smoke from spreading into or out of the dining room. If the batteries run low, the unit beeps continually for up to twenty-four hours.

While addressing the regulatory issue, the device does not present a perfect solution, according to the owners. Since those doors are the dining room's only exit, the owners fear a problem may arise if the fire starts in the dining room and sets off the alarm. In that case, the safety devices will close the doors and possibly trap smoke in the room and impede quick exit. …

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