On December 1, 1977, a fire which occurred on the sixth floor of a luxury hotel in Bermuda killed three people. The fire burned the entire length of an undivided corridor which measured almost 500 feet in length. At the time of the fire, the hotel was undergoing renovations so therefore there were no occupants in a large section of the sixth floor. The renovations resulted in an excessive combustible load in the corridor area. The cause of the fire is still under investigation and the origin was in the sixth floor corridor.
The hotel was a "T" shaped building and contained six guest floors. The building construction was of metal frame with spray -on fireproofing on column and main beams. Interior construction was of gypsum board on metal studs. Fire protection equipment in the hotel included hose reels located throughout the corridors along with stand pipes for fire department use. A heat detection system was provided with detectors located in such areas as closets, storage areas, and other hazardous locations. Manual pull stations were located throughout the building and activation of any of the heat detectors or the manual pull stations would result in a pyre signal alarm at the telephone operator station and in engineering.
At the time of the hotel fire, there were civil disturbances in Bermuda that resulted in simultaneous fires. This meant that fewer fire fighters were available to fight the hotel fire than would normally have been the case. The hotels own private fire brigade, however, assisted the public brigade in containing the fire and preventing further loss of life. This fire demonstrates the need to be aware of fire hazards created during renovation of buildings; especially when they are to be occupied during the renovation. It also demonstrates that even under prolonged and heavier fire loading than anticipated, the existing standards for corridor wall construction proved most satisfactory.
For more information on this fire download this July 1978 Fire Journal article To see the NPFA report on Fires in Residential Properties under Construction or Undergoing Major Renovation