Call the Fire Brigade
If you run a hotel, dealings with the local fire brigade are part of the little inconveniences that keep you up to the mark. To run a hotel in this country, I legally have to have a Fire Certificate, this has a plan of the hotel and marks on the plan the site of all bits that I have to have to comply with regulations - smoke alarms, heat alarms, call points, emergency lights, fire notices, water based fire extinguishers, powder based fire extinguishers, a log book, etc. Every year they come to check that all is in order and that I have not ripped them all out in a fit of anti-establishment pique.
False alarms are a common bugbear of any alarm system. Think about how many times you have heard fire alarms, burglar alarms, car alarms. The ubiquitous alarm bells ringing in high streets across Britain have become so part of every day life, that I am sure not one person in a hundred takes them seriously. However in a hotel, we must take every time the alarms go off seriously. The system must be checked for the cause. This can be, and usually is, something silly like tiny "thunder bugs" getting into the detection system - a problem in country areas at harvest time. Or something obvious like the toast burning in the kitchen - toast burns even in good hotels!
Apart from this regular annual inspection, we do see the fire brigade on other occasions.. In our last hotel we burnt logs, and one Christmas day the chimney went up in flames. Our guests were treated to the fire brigade squirting water up and down the chimney. I learned afterwards that there is a problem with burning logs - they deposit a film of tar on the inside of the chimney, starting at the top, and gradually working its way down. Sweeping the chimney removes soot, but not tar. So eventually the tar reaches down to fire level, somebody stokes the fire up - like on Christmas morning, and whoosh, the tar catches light at the bottom, and the chimney fire is intent on working its way up to the top as it consumes the tar as fuel.
Then we had a false alarm one year when we were away on holiday. The bells went off in the middle of the night, but the assistant manager, who was in charge, did not hear them. There were only four guests in the hotel - a doctor and his wife, and an American couple. They, of course were woken by the bells, and on finding no staff around, the doctor found the control board, and switched the bells off. He apparently worked somewhere that suffered from false alarms, and was used to switching bells off. At that point he would have happily gone back to bed, but the Americans insisted that the fire brigade was summoned. It arrived and checked the building to ensure no fires burning.
In the very last room they checked they stumbled upon a very sleepy assistant manager still fast asleep, who was frightened silly by three firemen in full regalia bursting into her bedroom. Maybe it is some girl's dream to be so wakened by three burly firemen, but in this case I think she could have done without the excitement!
And if you want to stay in a nice hotel by the sea in Cornwall, Corisande Manor Hotel, Cornwall
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