Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990

» Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Hotels | 0 comments

The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 (PL 101-391) was passed into law September 25, 1990, by Congress in an attempt to promote fire safety in hotels, motels, and other public accommodations, as well as, save lives and protect property. This law mandates that federal employees on official travel must stay in accommodations and hold federally funded meetings or conferences in properties that adhere to the requirements set forth in the legislation guidelines.

Hotels must be in compliance of section 29 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 in its entirety as well as the amendments put forth as The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act, section 3. The amendment is applicable to all places of public accommodation and does not exempt properties built before the enactment of the law from compliance. The main statute requires:

  • hard-wired, single-station smoke detectors in each guestroom in accordance with the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standard 72;
  • an automatic sprinkler system, with a sprinkler head in each guest room in compliance with NFPA standards 13 or 13R. Properties three stories or lower in height are exempt from the sprinkler requirement.

These provisions are required in conjunction with or combination with all other State and/or local fire safety requirements.

The United States Fire Administration, in conjunction with the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was tasked with compiling and maintaining a dynamic master list of properties that have been certified as fire-safe and that had been issued a FEMA number. This list is now available online at or for those without internet access, in the Official Airline Guide and the Federal Travel Directory. Hotels must apply for listing in the National Master List of Fire Safe Hotels and Motels either by registering online at the USFA website, faxing the paper form to 301.447.1651, or by submitting the paper application to:

US Fire Administration
16825 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg MD 21727

Properties can download the form at or by calling 301.447.1358. There is no charge for registering for a FEMA number.

In September of 1996, Congress repealed the portion of the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 that requires federal employees to stay in fire safe hotel accommodations by eliminating the General Accounting Office’s responsibility to ensure federal agencies complied with the law. There is no longer a defined auditing system, either centralized or in the hands of individual agencies, that binds the agencies to the 90% approved accommodation level required by “the Act”. The Congressional Fire Caucus and other members of the fire service community are disturbed by the fact that there is now no way to enforce compliance among travelers. However, travel agencies contracted by the government have become, at least in some ways, the check and balance channel. The general policy still states that travelers must give FedRooms properties first consideration as the sanctioned travel program of the GSA. FedRooms does require that all participating hotels in their government program be certified, listed on the Master List of Fire Safe Hotels, and have valid FEMA number. Also, CWT|Sato Government Travel, who contracts with many individual agencies within the federal government, requires a FEMA number to be listed in their government program directories.

by Crystal Wright


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