Hotel & Motel Fire Safety Act
issues briefs and talking points

The Fire Safety Act of 1990 requires 90 percent of all federal travel nights to be at properties that meet the requirements of this Act. 


The federal travel market has an estimated annual value of 2 billion dollars. Following notable fires in the 70s and 80s, the federal government took efforts to ensure the majority of its employees traveling on official business stay in accommodations offering minimum fire safety features. As a result, Congress passed Public Law 101-391 known as the Hotel & Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990.

The law established as policy that federal employees stay in accommodations meeting certain life-safety standards for fire protection whenever commercial lodging is required. The law required that FEMA maintain a list of those places of accommodation that met the federal requirements. The list came to be known as the National Master List or NML.

To meet the requirements of the Act, a hotel or motel must have hard-wired, single-station smoke alarms in each guestroom. In addition to the smoke alarm requirement, if the property is four or more stories, each guestroom must have the added protection afforded by an automatic fire sprinkler system. The smoke alarms and fire sprinkler system must meet accepted national standards.

Properties that do not meet the requirements of the Act (or comply, but do not appear on the NML) risk losing federal government travel and conference business. As of 2011, more than 43,000 properties meet the federal hotel and motel fire safety requirements for inclusion on the National Master List. The NML database is available online to federal employees and the public. 



Through the efforts of the lodging industry (and the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act) life safety from fire is greatly improved in places of accommodation. With 90 percent of federal travel nights required in properties complying with the Act, as well as all federally sponsored meetings, there is a potential financial incentive for listed properties.

The AHLA urges all member properties that meet the requirements of the Act to submit an application online for inclusion in the federal government's list of properties. The AHLA and the USFA also ask that you update your listing when property ownership changes, when corporate affiliation changes, or when staff contact information for the NML changes. To update your listing online you will need your FEMA ID number and the business EIN (Employer Identification Number).

For information on complying with the Act or to see if your property is already listed on the National Master List, please visit the U.S. Fire Administration website. Property owners who would like to register their property on the National Master List may do so by selecting the Add a New Listing link, to modify your property record select the Update Existing Listing link and follow the instructions.


For more information, contact Vanessa Sinders, AH&LA senior vice president for Government Affairs, at (202) 289-3121,

(Updated August 2008)