Fire Safety Provided for Guests of Hotels in Hawaii

Fire Safety Provided for Guests of Hotels in Hawaii

In early 1952 Matson Navigation Company of San Francisco, owners and operators of three major hotels in Honolulu, conducted a study of factors involving guest security in all types of emergency. As a result of these studies all employees of the Royal Hawaiian, Moana and Surf Rider Hotels have been trained in the responsibilities of hotel staff for the safety of guests in any unusual or emergency situation.

The staff training has continued since January, 1953. Each hotel has set up a disaster organization with the resident manager acting in the capacity of Disaster Chief. Drills by the hotel staff, held at least once each month, in the various types of emergency that might occur, round out the program.

From the standpoint of the hotel operator, fire is probably the most serious emergency that might arise. In addition to the guest’s instinctive fear of fire, consideration must be given to the fact that most guests find themselves in surroundings with which they are not familiar. For these and other reasons, the greatest emphasis in the program of Hawaii Hotels is centered on procedures to be followed in the event of fire.

The following “Operating Procedure for Fire” has been adopted by each of the hotels. In each hotel the house alarm system has been integrated with a central alarm office who immediately notify the Honolulu Fire Department when any alarm of fire is received. Names of individuals appearing in the original have been deleted and job designations substituted in the following text.


When a fire is discovered by any employee of this hotel, an alarm will be sounded immediately by the fastest means, either by phone or the Alarm “pull box,” before any attempt is made to extinguish the fire.


AT ANY TIME, upon receiving a report of fire (either by phone or Alarm Bells) the operator receiving the initial alarm will call the following, in order, FOREGOING ALL OTHER CALLS UNTIL THIS IS DONE:

  1. Fire Department.
  2. Ass’t Manager on duty and Front Office Clerk.
  3. Hotel Fire Chief or House Officer on Duty.
  4. Hotel Manager.
  5. Engineers Office.
  6. Office of the Ass’t Vice-President.

During “Off Hours” the following people will be called at home:

  1. Chief Security Officer (Fire Chief) (Number listed)
  2. Ass’t Chief Engineer (Number listed)
  3. Ass’t Chief Engineer (Number listed)
  4. Engineering Assistant (Number listed) Ass’t Vice President, Chief Engineer and

Administrative Assistant, to be notified during “Off Hours” in cases of MAJOR FIRES only.

NOTE: When an alarm is received by the Alarm system, an alarm is automatically sounded at the office of the Hawaii Alarm, Ltd., who will confirm the fact that the alarm has been received by their office and who will also call the Fire Department.

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Hawaii Hotels

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8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

  1. Security Officer and/or Fire Captains assigned, will proceed to location of fire and take full charge until arrival of the Fire Department. When the type of fire, and its extent, are known, the information will be relayed, via messenger, to the Disaster Chief, located in the lobby, who will determine the immediate steps to be taken
  2. Members of the Fire Brigade stationed on the floor where the fire is located will proceed to the scene of the fire, with equipment, and all other members of the Fire Brigade will assemble at the service pantry on their floor and stand by, should they be needed.
  3. Once the location of the fire has been determined from the code, the Bell Captain or Sergeant will direct a Bell Boy to proceed to the (street) entrance and stand by for the Fire Company and inform them as to the location of the fire.
  4. All elevators (freight and passenger) will proceed to the lowest floor and remain there for the use of the local Fire Department, or the Hotels Engineering Department employees.
  5. If evacuation of any guests’ bedrooms appears to be advisable, the Disaster Chief will so instruct the telephone operator, who will ring the adjacent rooms, or nearby rooms, to the fire and state:


    LOBBY VIA NEAREST STAIRWAY.” and the Monitors and Stair Guards will immediately evacuate guests from the floor where fire is located, under supervision of the Floor Warden, if so instructed by the Disaster Chief.

  7. In case of building evacuation during the dining room hours, the dining room staff will evacuate guests to (outside building), and kitchen stall will secure all ranges and ovens; following which the kitchen staff will leave building through receiving entrance.
  8. Engineering staff (electricians, plumbers, etc.) on duty in the hotel will report directly to the Disaster Chief in the lobby and stand by for instruction from that source.
  9. House Nurse proceeds to location of Disaster Chief and stands by for instructions.

4:00 PM to 11:00 PM

  1. House Officer on duty will proceed directly to the scene of the fire and will be assisted by male members of the Housekeeping Department. He will relay, by messenger, the information regarding the fire to the Assistant Disaster Chief (Ass’t Manager on duty) and/or the Disaster Chief who will determine steps to be taken
  2. Rest of procedure to follow as in daytime operation.

11:00 PM to 8:00 AM

  1. House Officer and/or Ass’t Manager on duty and front office clerk proceed to the location of the fire and with the benefit of any available assistance attempt to put it out. When the type of fire and its extent are known, the information will be relayed, by fastest means, to the Disaster Chief (Resident Manager) and/or the Assistant Disaster Chief (Resident Ass’t Manager) who will determine the immediate steps to be taken.
  2. Before leaving the desk for the scene of the fire, the Front Office Clerk will inform the operator that he is doing so.
  3. The Night Auditor will secure the cash and lock the safe; go to the Front Desk and “stand by” in the capacity of Desk Clerk. He will, above all, protect the registration cards from being lost or destroyed.
  4. After an alarm has been received by telephone and the Front Office Clerk and/or Assistant Manager arrive at the scene of the fire, the “House Alarm” will be sounded if the fire is of such extent to warrant this action.
  5. As in the daytime operation, the elevactors will remain on the lowest floor for use of Engineering Department or Fire Department.


NOTE: If and when the fire has been extinguished without the benefit of the Fire Department, it is advisable that the Fire Department be called, on instructions of the Disaster Chief, and informed that there has been a fire which has been extinguished and a request made at that time for an inspector to come out to inspect or “overhaul” the fire to determine that it has been absolutely extinguished and there is no danger of a “flash-back.”

Fire drills are conducted under the supervision of an Assistant Manager designated the Director of Training. Fire Brigades are made up of male members of the housekeeper’s staff and are under the supervision of two Fire Captains appointed from their members and the Chief Security Officer who acts as Fire Chief. In the absence of the Chief Security Officer the House Officer on duty assumes the role of Fire Chief.

Drills resemble as nearly as possible the actual procedure that would be followed in the event of type of fire that might occur in the hotel. Fire Brigades report to the location with fire extinguishers and related equipment. Following the decision of the Fire Chief that the situation is under control, all members of the fire party repair to an open area adjacent to the hotel. In this area the Engineers have prepared a “mock” fire similar to the theoretical fire described in the drill. The Fire Brigade that answered the alarm within the hotel then are given the opportunity to actually extinguish this set fire with the same equipment brought by themselves to the scene of the drill.

The actual extinguishment of the set fire tends to give the men confidence in the equipment provided. It also plainly shows the inadequacy of insufficient equipment if such is the case. The most important lesson learned by all, however, is the importance of every hour every day fire prevention efforts by all members of the hotel staff.

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