Environmental Health and Safety

Effective Date: 11/03/00

Procedure Statement 3: Safety for Public Assemblies


This policy applies to all University buildings or portions of buildings used for gatherings of 50 or more persons for such activities as entertainment, dining, amusement, lectures, seminars, etc. Minimum criteria are described for emergency planning and fire prevention practices to be employed by University departments responsible for such gathering places.

Fire Drill Planning

The employees or attendants at places of assembly should be trained in the duties they are to perform in case of fire, panic, or other emergencies in order to be of greatest service in effecting orderly exit of assemblages.

Open Flame Devices

No open flame devices are to be used for ceremonies, theatrical performances, and the like, without prior approval from the Environmental Health and Safety Office.

Special Food Service Devices

Portable cooking devices not flue-connected are to be used only with prior approval from the Environmental Health and Safety Office. Candles may be used on tables for food services if securely supported on substantial noncombustible bases located in such a way as to avoid a danger or ignition of combustible materials. Candle flames must be protected.


Smoking in places of assembly is discouraged and in some areas prohibited. Signs to this effect should be mounted in conspicuous locations. Such signs should consist of red lettering on a white background if smoking is prohibited because of fire hazards, or blue on a white background if for other reasons.

Flammable Liquids

The storage or use of flammable liquids in assembly areas is prohibited.

Decorations and Stage Scenery

Combustible materials must be treated with an effective flame retardant material. Stage settings made of combustible materials must likewise be treated with flame retardant materials. This requirement also applies to decorations within residence halls.


Non-fixed seating arrangements for gatherings of 100 or more persons require prior approval by the Environmental Health and Safety Office. Any increase in the seating capacity of assembly rooms with fixed seats also require approval from the Environmental Health and Safety Office.

Maintenance of Exitways

Aisles, passageways, and stairways must not be obstructed or restricted by tables, showcases, or other objects. All exit doors must remain unlocked during assembly to permit evacuation.