Please read Riu Palace Fire in Laundry and Kitchen area No Casualties
The RIU Palace had a fire incident this morning which rendered the resort non-operational, all people have been evacuated without casualties. The fire consumed most of the laundry and main kitchen.
People needing to travel to day are being escorted to their rooms to pick up their belongings so that they can prepare at the RIU Antillas for their departure to the airport. All other will be accommodated either in the RIU Antillas or other on island properties if needed.
This is an fyi just if you receive any questions or comments in the forum. Will keep you posted with further updates.
[QUOTE=Arubalisa;292884]A number of guests have reported on TripAdvisor that there were no smoke alarms sounding at the time of the fire. [/QUOTEThis was my 5th time going to Aruba, which is an island I absolutely love and will always love. The people have always been so nice and friendly. Iíve always felt safe in Aruba, in the past. This was also my 5th time going to the RIU palace and I will probably never return unless they can prove to me that there is an active fire alarm and fire safety precautions in place. Prior to this incident, it was one of my favorite places to go on Earth. I've been with large groups and I've also been with my family. This time I was doing both. I was part of a large business group and also had my family join us. On my most recent stay during the first week of March 2016, the RIU experienced a fire. The night before this fire happened, somebody traveling in my party had his smoke detector alarm go off at 330am and called the front desk. They sent someone to his room and basically took it off the wall. That was their way of fixing it. Maybe when an alarm is going off at 330am, it's an indication that something is wrong. The next morning the hotel had to evacuate do to a fire. The evacuation, luckily, happened at 9:30 to 10am. If this fire had happened in the middle of the night, it could have been a disaster. All the employees were running from the building when they heard about the fire, rather than alert people in their rooms. There were no audible alarms sounding off. One stairway that I traveled had a padlocked door on an exit level door, forcing people to actually go to a lower level exit door. The fire started at the lowest level? Why they don't have spring loading exit door, instead of a padlocked door is beyond me. Once the power was shut down, the stairways became unmanageable without any light. These are twisting stairs that have half steps on the turns, which are angled turns. Simple backup or solar lighting could have made that a little safer. There were 2 children on a high level balcony and no responders were attempting to enter the building to get them to safety. The mother was going crazy and I don't blame her. I had to go to 2 different floors to alert my family members to get out. First to the 3rd floor then the 7th floor. My guess is that the firefighters do not go through the same training like the firefighters that we have here in the USA. I am thankful for our firefighters who put their lives in danger to bring our lives to for safety. This fire also made me wonder what kind of fire equipment is available in circumstances like this. Does the fire department even have fire trucks capable of accessing and reaching these people. The RIU also just put plexi-glass enclosures in the window opening on the street die hallways. This limits the possibility of accessing those area with a ladder truck. The windows do not open. I also donít think the beach side of the RIU, where the room balconies are, can be accessed with a fire truck. This fire was definitely uncharted territory for everyone involved. This was clearly just a total lack of preparation for what happened and putting the safety of thousands of people at risk. I would like to see the safety records and signed permits on this place. It also makes you wonder about the rest of the high rise hotels in Aruba. If the RIU palace could have such a poorly done system or is not tested regularly, then all the others on that strip should also be in question. I would think there are code requirements in Aruba or are there code requirement there? If one place can have certain things overlooked, and not properly functioning, then they all could be in the same position. This is one of the more modern high rise resorts there. They recently just finished and are advertising this place as being totally upgraded and redone. Maybe a little money should be put into the safety of the hotel guests rather than making redoing the lobby and many other cosmetic renovations. I'd rather see fire strobes going off in the bedrooms and hallways rather than strobe lights at the new outdoor performance area. Owners/shareholder, management, and local officials are definitely overlooking some major issues. Top level people were not gathering and addressing the guests in any manner other than saying the building was not able to be entered. We were with a large group of people scheduled to leave that day. All luggage and passports were unreachable. Obviously, I understand if they feel a building is unsafe for entry then it's best to not enter. The problem was that nobody was being a spokesperson to these people to let them know where and what would happen. Some employees directed people to the newly purchased wing of the RIU. (the old Westin). Once you made it to that area, there was nobody speaking to people, no type of vocal acknowledgment. Someone could have been using a bullhorn, microphone, megaphone, anything, to try and communicate with the affected people, or gather them to an area. Especially the people that were in need of medications or that were departing that day. Instead we were all mixed in with people from that resort, who were enjoying their vacation. It was almost as if they were trying to just keep it quite and somehow go unnoticed. The funny part is that when they did start communicating with the people, it was back at the area that they told us to vacate from, but nobody came to tell people that. It was just a real lack of communication and a lack of being prepared. In the end, the ones that did assist people to their rooms to get their things were very nice and helpful. Trying to get luggage and people up and down an unlit stairway from the 7th floor was not on my vacation agenda. I feel bad for anyone who was affected by this fire, more so than myself. On a larger scale and looking at what could have happened if this took place at 330am in the morning, I'm very concerned for vacationing at the RIU or in any high rise hotel in Aruba in the future. Especially if this place was just upgraded and redone. Don't get me wrong I ABSOLUTELY LOVE ARUBA, but there are some major issues to be addressed and questions to be answered. Iím hoping that my faith in one of my favorite vacation destinations can be restored, somehow.
There was this article in Amigoe today (google translation):
'To check all hotels for safety is impossible'
Tuesday, 15 March 2016 14:48
ORANGESTAD - Hotels are not all audited annually on the compliance of fire safety rules and the national security regulation. That is because the concerning control departments at the Fire Service and Technical Inspection (DTI) has insufficient human resources and budget. In addition, some of the hotels do not permit on fire safety area.
By our reporter
After a fire broke out ten days ago at Hotel RIU, it was stated that more hotels would not comply with the safety regulation. Justice Minister Arthur Dowers denied this initially, but Health Minister Alex Schwengle confirms that a number of hotels have their licenses in the field of (fire) safety not in order, which include fire safety is not guaranteed everywhere. This was according to him last year during an inspection at the big hotels regarding the light. Edward de Cuba, commander of the Fire Department Aruba confirms this phenomenon. "The hotels are in the distant past and have been authorized to open, for example, but some hotels do not permit fire area. Which have existed for so long, built when there were no fire rules. "Hotels Schwengle is working to give a time limit to regulate the proper permits. If they do not, then slaps them with a fine. What does this fine, is unknown. Schwengle this morning was not available for comment.
DTI is the body that oversees or companies work according to the safety regulation. Richard Croes, chief security DTI tells Amigoe that they just do not have the space to do so completely. "The safety regulation has been in force for several years and which is controlled by us. But still not optimal as desired and as we want to see. This partly because we're tight with internal staff and due to budget. "They try to control where they can, Croes says. "If we receive complaints about the phone, we try to go there. And then we look for example at the power lines and cartons or extension cords that are overloaded illegal. We also look at gas pipelines and the installation of other pipes or this is done properly. "But all the hotels check for safety, seems impossible according to him. "Then we have to make a whole scheme of all the hotels we will all have to look in a certain time period. Experience takes this much time. We do not get to control all companies to that is the harsh reality. "The audit department of firefighters struggling with the same problem, says De Cuba. "We only have four people, so fire safety checks are not so easy. If you want to do a big hotel thoroughly, it will take weeks. We try to visit all the hotels every year, but that's not easy. "
The fire department conducts at the time it checks at hotels, but it was not before the fire broke out at the RIU. "Unfortunately we started this year in terms of checks on the other side of the hotels, which at the Marriott and the Holiday Inn, which we had not yet arrived at RIU." As a result they did not know ahead of time that the hotel does wielded fire safety standards and rules but that this did not correspond to the country decides fire prevention and fire safety which the rules of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) are followed. "Most US hotels have their own fire safety policy that they must comply with the NFPA, we therefore have no problems. But above all European hotels have different rules. That was the case at RIU, who worked according to Spanish fire safety rules and not according to the NFPA. "Normally when firefighters encountered here, they work with the owner to optimize the fire safety policy, says de Cuba. "These projects are only be costly."
DTI investigates at the moment what exactly went wrong at the RIU and what can be improved in the future to prevent this kind of situation. According to Croes this report should be about ready within a week.
I can't tell you anything about the RIU, however at the Occidental there are both smoke detectors and a fire dept standpipe on the property. Hopefully they work being a firefighter that's the first things I look for, the other would be how far from an emergency staircase I was. To answer the question of ladder trucks, I have looked at most of the high rise hotels and there is no way a ladder truck could access those buildings. Some sides of the hotels could be accessed but not all sides. The AFD has one ladder truck on the island and I believe 5 engines. I have been to their stations and they have decent equipment. Not new but better than what I've seen in others countries , some can't even pump water. One other thing I find the headline " To check all hotels for safety is impossible" insulting. It can be done and should be done. If people remember, years ago 100 people died in RI because of stupidity at a night club, not doing inspections at hotels could cause the same out come. Sorry for the rant but opinions like that make me angry.
Has the Riu reopened? One of my coworkers mentioned today that she was going to Aruba for the first time and staying at the Riu. I didn't mention the fire because I did not want her to worry or spoil her trip thinking about it.