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When I was 16 years old, I was woken in the middle of the night by mom. She smelled smoke in our San Juan, Puerto Rico hotel. Running down 19 or 29 flights of smoke-filled stairs at 2am is an experience I will never forget. To this day, I still take certain precautions when staying at a hotel, which I will share at the bottom of this post. RELATED: My terrifying hotel fire experience and what I learned from it

The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, Ireland.Henry Winkler, the star of the 70s sitcom Happy Days, was just evacuated from a five-star hotel in Dublin. Winkler, who played the character Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, shared an image of him and three Irish firefighters from this morning with the caption: “Thank you Dublin ‘s fire department … our hotel was evacuated on our first morning !!!”

According to the Irish Independent, “A fire at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin was brought under control by Dublin Fire Brigade after staff and guests were evacuated from the premises this morning.”

As you can see in the interview above, Winkler told reporters: “When I heard the fire alarm I thought it was the clock radio – I thought somebody had set the alarm before we got there, like another guest. I called downstairs and the woman said in a very calm voice, ‘Yes, we’re all evacuating! You must evacuate right now!’”

Johnny Jet and Henry Winkler

I’ve been fortunate to have met hundreds of celebrities, mostly while traveling, and whenever I’m asked who’s the nicest, I always put Henry Winkler at the top. To give you an idea how nice he is, the local paper quoted him as saying, “Firemen are some of my favorite human beings. Firemen and firewomen, they run in when other people are running out. I think they deserve their hands to be shook.”

Fortunately, this wasn’t a devastating fire and it happened mid-morning, which is far better than in the middle of the night.

One of the things I’ve learned from being in the Puerto Rico fire was to always make a note of the fire escapes when you check into a hotel and when you get to your room. I also keep my clothes (warm jacket, if it’s winter), wallet and passport near the door with my shoes, just in case I need to make a mad dash. Unfortunately, I had to do just that at least one other time in Toronto.

For more tips, travel guru and part time firefighter Peter Greenberg shared some valuable information on why you shouldn’t stand up if you’re in a hotel room during a fire. For even more information, the U.S. Fire Administration offers up these hotel and vacation rental fire safety tips.


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