Fire Training: Decorations

Many groups choose to use decorations for holidays, dances, and events. Anytime you are doing
extensive decorating or using any kind of flame producing item you must consult with Office of Environmental Health and Safety for UMW, at least ten business days before the event. Please abide by the following guidelines when planning you event:

Absolutely no indoor pyrotechnics, fog machines, or flame producing items – both in and out of doors. This includes tiki torches!

  1. Natural trees are prohibited in the student rooms and in areas of public assembly areas where 50 or more people gather for a purpose).
  2. Artificial trees need care in selection and handling. Plastic trees can burn. Use the type clearly marked as made from slow burning materials. Those with built-in electrical systems should carry the Underwriter’s label (UL). Metal trees maybe a shock hazard. Use only indirect lighting with them. If lighting strings are placed on a metal tree, the tree may become electrically charged. Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
  3. Use noncombustible decorating materials (metal, glass, etc.). Untreated cotton batting, flock and paper ignite easily and may burn intensely. Use only flame-retardant or noncombustible materials for costumes and decorations. Crepe paper and streamers used for decorations must be labeled as “fire-proof” or “flame-proof”. Be sure to read the label before you buy the material. Plastic bags and plastic sheeting may not be used for decorating – this material is very combustible!
  4. Keep exit corridors and doors free of decorations. Their use in these areas could cause confusion and make exiting dangerous in emergency situations.
  5. Cover no more than 20% of any available wall space with decorations. Do not block or cover fire alarm pull stations, emergency lights, exit lights, hose and extinguisher cabinets, or any part of the sprinkler system. Regular corridor lighting must not be completely covered. Keep decorations at least ten feet from exit doors.
  6. Corridors must not be “wall-papered” with combustible materials. Combustible decorations are not permitted in stairwells.
  7. Do not string decorations down corridor ceilings. They can act as fuses should they become ignited.
  8. The use of lighted candles or any open flame device is not permitted in residence halls. Safe alternatives include flashlights and battery operated candles.
  9. Because of their combustible nature, the following materials may not be used for decorating:corn stalks, leaves, and hay. Other natural materials such as pumpkins, squash, and gourds are permitted.
  10. Electrical decorations should be UL listed. Equipment should be checked for frayed cords, loose connections and broken sockets. They should be unplugged when you leave your room or before you go to sleep.
  11. Make sure all indoor and outdoor holiday lights are UL listed.
  12. If an electrical appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately and have it serviced.
  13. Replace any electrical cord that is cracked or frayed.