It is crucial that college facilities are maintained in a condition that will allow for quick and safe evacuation in the event of an emergency. This policy will outline the state and local regulatory requirements designed to provide good fire prevention practices as well as maintaining safe egress (exit) routes.


  • Decorations, as defined by state code, include all materials such as curtains, draperies, scenery, plastic shields, upholstery materials, streamers, surface coverings applied over the building interior finish for decorative effect, and also cloth, cotton batting, straw vines, leaves, trees and moss used for decorative effect, bamboo and other wood fibers. (Excluded from this definition are ordinary window shades).
  • Combustibles include any material that will readily ignite when heat sources are present. Some examples are cardboard, paper products, some plastics, wood products, etc.

General Fire Safety Guidelines

Never block, hide, or disguise an exit or exit signage.

  • Keep exits free and clear from combustibles and obstructions.
  • Decorations or furnishings must not constrict or obstruct corridors or stairways.
  • Never place combustible materials in corridors, lobbies, stairwells or on corridor walls.
  • Use of pyrophoric materials or fireworks of any kind is strictly prohibited, indoors or out.
  • Combustible decorations must be treated with a fire retardant.
  • Extension cords are for temporary use only. During the holiday season they should not be used in a way that will create a fire, tripping, or electrical hazard:
    • Electrical cords (extension or light cords) may not be routed under doors, through windows, or under throw rugs or loose carpeting.
    • Extension cords must be UL listed, be a minimum of 16 gauge wire, be equipped with a ground plug, and be properly plugged into a wall outlet. Multiple extension cords may not be connected to each other.
  • Because there are no appropriately located exterior GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter) outlets, use of lighted or electrically powered decorations outside of college buildings are prohibited.
  • Plastics, styrofoams and polyurethane foams should not be used for decorations or furnishings. Fabrics such as curtains, drapes, furniture coverings, floor coverings and other fabric hangings must be fire retardant.
  • Never hang fabrics and other combustibles from the ceiling, as they can (1) obstruct smoke/heat detectors, and if ignighted, can (2) rapidly engulf room occupants.
  • Hanging decorations (or anything else) from overhead pipes, cables or conduits is prohibited. Decorations may not be attached to, or hung from, sprinkler heads or sprinkler system piping. This is a particularly important requirement because of the potential for breaking the sprinkler heads, pipes or pipe hangers.
  • Combustible materials should be kept at a safe distance or be shielded from sources of heat such as radiators and light bulbs.

Prohibited Materials

Because they cannot be properly treated with flame retardant solutions, the following materials may not be used for interior decorations under any circumstances:

Bamboo Straw/Hay Dry Moss
Corn Shucks/Stalks Cut Trees/Branches Confetti
Corn Stalks Cotton Tumbleweeds
Wood Shavings Sawdust  

Restrictions Specific to Building Type or Function

Residential Halls

  • Candles and other open flames are prohibited in residential buildings at all times. The one exception is the use of fireplaces in approved (sprinklered) buildings.
  • Because of the extremely high temperature they generate, use of halogen lamps is prohibited.
  • Possession and use of gasoline, propane, lighter fluid or any other combustible liquid or gas is prohibited at all times.

Non-Residential Buildings

  • Candles may be used for normally recognized religious services, but requires prior approval by the Director of EH&S.
  • Use of potential sources of ignition during theatrical or other artistic productions, such as candles, lit cigarettes or any other flame producing special effect, requires prior approval by the New London Fire Marshal (Via the Office of EH&S).

Holiday Decorations

In accordance with Connecticut State Fire Code, section 10.15.1, and guidelines published by the National Fire Protection Association, Connecticut College has established the following policy regarding the use of holiday decorations in residential halls:

  • Combustible vegetation, including natural cut Christmas trees, or other cut holiday decorations are prohibited. Live “Ball” trees are allowed in sprinklered buildings, provided that they are kept alive with periodic watering. Contact the Director of EH&S at extension 2252 for further guidance.
  • All artificial trees and decorations must be UL (Underwriter Laboratories) listed.
  • Christmas trees and decorations must be located at least 15 feet away from any fireplace. (Use of fireplaces are allowed only in fully sprinklered buildings.)
  • Electric lights should be in good condition, and have a UL listing label. All lighting is to be turned off and unplugged when the area is unattended. Exterior lights and decorations are prohibited.
  • Multi-plug adapters are prohibited. One power strip (with a fuse or integral circuit breaker) per electrical outlet may be used when extra outlets for Christmas tree lights are needed.
  • Again, candles or other open flames are prohibited!
  • Decorations must be of non-combustible material and cannot restrict or obstruct the exits. Paper and other combustible materials are acceptable if treated with flame retardant.
  • Trees and decorations are prohibited in hallways and stairwells.
  • Decorations must be kept away from exit signs, fire alarm devices (pull stations, smoke and heat detectors, etc.), fire extinguishers, and emergency and normal-use light fixtures. Exit signs and emergency lights must not be obstructed in any way.
  • Christmas trees and holiday decorations must be removed before commencement of winter break.