Frequently Asked Questions

What is the act?
The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990, Public Law 101-391, is an Act of Congress aimed at improving fire safety in hotels, motels, and other places of public accommodation.
What are the requirements of the act?
The Act states that Federal employees, when on official travel, should stay in fire-safe accommodations. Each Federal agency must ensure that at least 90% of travel nights are spent in such properties. Some agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), require 100% of travel nights to be spent in approved accommodations. Similarly, conferences, seminars, and other meetings, funded in whole or in part with Federal funds, must be held at facilities with fire-safe accommodations.
What are fire-safe accommodations?
For the purposes of this Act, every guestroom in a hotel or motel and each apartment/condominium must have an AC-powered smoke alarm. These are commonly called hard-wired. The alarm must be installed in accordance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 72. A alarm that is solely battery-powered is not acceptable. An AC-powered alarm with battery backup is desirable, but not required. If the building is more than three stories in height, it must also have a full automatic sprinkler system. Systems installed before October 25, 1992, and meeting whatever local code was in effect at the time are acceptable, provided there is at least one sprinkler head in every guestroom. Sprinkler systems installed on or after that date must meet NFPA Standard 13 or 13R.
How can I tell if a hotel or motel is fire-safe?
The U.S. Fire Administration compiles a list of such properties. For purposes of the Act, fire-safe means listed in the National Master List of Fire Safe Hotels and Motels. The List is available on the World Wide Web at If you do not have Internet access, call (301) 447-1358, or consult the Official Airline Guide or the Federal Travel Directory.
What is the advantage to a hotel or motel to become listed?
Listed properties can put up Federal government employees and host federally funded conferences. This should provide a significant incentive - to be eligible for a share of the Federal government's annual $25,000,000,000 travel expenditures. This business will not be available to non-listed properties.
How does a hotel get listed?
A hotel must apply for listing. There is no charge for listing. The fastest and easiest way to apply is to register online. To obtain a paper application form, download it (PDF 263 Kb) from our Web site or call (301) 447-1358. Fill out the form and mail it to Tim Ganley, U.S. Fire Administration, 16825 South Seton Avenue, Emmitsburg, MD 21727. You may fax it to USFA at (301) 447-1651.
Who approves the hotel or motel?
In each State, the Governor has appointed an official to give or deny approval for a property requesting to be included in the Master List. Usually, this official is the state fire marshal or his designee. A list of State Project Officers is also available at the USFA Web site. If approved by the State Project Officer, USFA will add the property to the Master List.
Are there any other advantages for a hotel to become listed?
Yes. Each year, the General Services Administration (GSA) makes a survey of the cost of lodging around the country. From this information, GSA sets the per diem rates for each area in the country. (These determine how much a traveler is allowed to spend in that area). A hotel must be on the Master List to be included in the survey.
How does the act affect state and local laws and codes?
This Act does not replace State or local fire safety requirements, rather it complements them.
My hotel was built before the act was passed. Does it still have to comply with the act?
Yes. There is no provision in the Act to exempt existing structures from compliance (commonly called "Grandfathering").
Where can I get more information about this project?
Please contact:
Tim Ganley, Project Officer
Hotel & Motel Fire Safety
U.S. Fire Administration
16825 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
Telephone: (301) 447-1358
Fax: (301) 447-1651