Sunday, February 17, 2008

Marriott Safety Issue - Indy

Everyone makes mistakes. I get that and I'm usually pretty understanding when a company appears to make a mistake in light of a trying situation. However, when public safety and the safety of the people I know could be at stake, I tend to be less understanding.

We are staying at the Downtown Marriott in Indianapolis while we are attending the Dealer Expo. It's a nice hotel - most of it has just been renovated. However, "nice" doesn't cut it when they aren't looking out for the well being of their guests.

Last night at 2:42am the fire alarm starts to go off. It is a fantastic system. Not only does the alarm sound in each individual room and the hallways, but there is also a voice that directs you to the nearest stairway because something is going on in the hotel (I don't remember the exact words - it was in the middle of the night!). But, my college "training" kicked in (fire alarms at least 2-4 times a month is good training)...pants, shirt, shoes, fleece, key, phone then out the door. I can do it in under 2 minutes even out of practice (thank you Charlesgate!).

When I got out into the rain on the side of the building with the other folks, we walked around to the front of the building just as the fire engines were going past the building. I think they were going around back, which was fine. However, we all walked into the lobby where there wasn't an alarm going off. Huh? No alarm.

Eric's on my floor so he's downstairs with me, but in a few minutes it becomes very apparent that those of us that are in the lobby are the only ones coming. Where's the rest of the Kryptonite team? Nowhere to be found. Why? The alarm isn't going off on their floors! We learned later that it was a false alarm on the 5th floor and that the alarm only sounded on the 4th, 5th and possibly 6th floors. What about the other floors (there are at least 15)??? Clearly, this is an automated system so that when an issue is flagged on one floor the alarm goes off on that floor and the floor above and below only. What is up with that??

And, to top it all off, there was only one person in the lobby working behind the desk. Fine. BUT, there wasn't anyone at the elevators telling people not to go up. I saw two cabs arrive and deliver people to the hotel last night while we were in the lobby and they went straight to the elevator and went up because there wasn't an alarm going off in the lobby, of course. HELLO, what if they were going to get off on the 5th floor? Nothing had been cleared by then.

This was so poorly run by the hotel that it made me fearful for an actual emergency in this hotel. When the rest of the gang heard about this last night, they were all a little shocked that they weren't evacuated, too. After all, had it been a fire on the 5th floor when, exactly, would the 7th and 8th floors be alarmed? When it was too late? And the floors above that? And what about the people returning to the hotel who were allowed to go up in the elevator to a floor with a potential issue?

Maybe the hotel knew from the get-go that this was a false alarm for some reason. MAYBE. However, this would have been a great test for all of their protocols for a time when this might actually be an emergency. I'd suggest they treat the next fire alarm like a real emergency, get everyone out and put in all of their emergency services (including keeping people away from the elevators!).

I'd rather be inconvenienced. like I was last night, and feel safe in a hotel than not feel safe there at all!

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