Why did a hotel security officer set hotel fires? It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, except, unfortunately for everyone involved, this was no joke.
When you hear about a former employee of two hotels starting his own hotel fires, you might assume he or she did so because of job dissatisfaction or revenge. But in the case of Mariano Barbosa, Jr., the suspect simply wanted to make his job a little bit easier. Barbosa was the security officer for both Yotel and the Soho Grand Hotel in Manhattan. He recently was arrested and charged with setting multiple hotel fires in both of these hotels dating back as far as 2009. When fire marshals began to grow suspicious of Barbosa’s inconsistent stories, they questioned Barbosa further.
Here’s a quote I came across in a Los Angeles Times article on hotels and fires that might make up for the less than healthy bedspreads and water glasses. According to David Stipanuk, an associate professor at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, “I suspect the average person is much safer in a hotel room than in their home.”
The glasses might be cleaner at home, at least you know they haven’t been cleaned with a Windex-like formula, but you’re more likely to have a house fire get out of control than one that happens in a hotel.
Think of these points: Do you have an automatic sprinkler system in your house? Where are your fire extinguishers? How about your smoke detector? Do the batteries in it work? A hotel has those things. They are required to by law.
Even though hotel fires do happen (see Justin’s post on the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino fire in Las Vegas in January), since 1980, when 80 people were killed in the MGM Grand fire in Las Vegas, many improvements have been made due to changes in regulation and practices. One result is there are 2/3 less fires caused by problems with a building’s structure. Puttting the fire out is also faster and people evacuate more quickly.
When the Monte Carlo fire occurred, people knew there was a problem because heat sensors in the rooms were triggered. Within 30 minutes, the thousands of people in the building had gotten out. Also, the fire was extinguished in 90 minutes. It’s a comfort to know that the hotel fire situation is worked out, more or less. Perhaps the day of being able to drink out of a hotel glass without fear is coming. In the meantime, wash the hotel glasses yourself, and get that smoke detector and fire extinguisher for home.