Fire Prevention FAQs

Why is storage in exit corridors considered a fire hazard?

Exit corridors are designed to provide occupants safe passage to the building's exits or exit stairwells. Storing furniture and items in corridors reduces their width and can block people safely evacuating. Also, items stored in the hallway can fuel the fire or be the source of the fire itself.

Can egress doors be locked when there are security concerns?

The requirement to not lock doors in the egress path is a design parameter when determining the floor plan of a space. The end-user must be consulted to see which areas are to be secured. Those areas must then be located so the flow of a required path of egress path is not interrupted. Another option is to provide additional egress routes. Delayed egress, if utilized, will require fire alarm features that are not required if delayed egress is not utilized. This underscores the necessity of correctly determining the occupancy classification of a building and the needed security measures when designing an egress system. [It is difficult to reconfigure spaces or to add smoke detection, fire sprinklers, smoke compartments, or additional stairwells at the end of construction to accommodate security concerns. However, if discussed upfront, these features can be incorporated into the design to provide code-complaint egress while meeting the security needs of the occupants.] For more information, please refer to our Egress Doors safety document.

Why are door wedges not allowed?

Typically, doors that have self-closers are fire doors which prevent the passage of fire and smoke from one area of the building to another. Wedging a fire door open renders the door useless, which leaves areas of the building un-protected. The only approved method to hold a fire door open is via a device connected to the fire alarm that will allow the door to self-close when the fire alarm goes off. Take a look at our Fire Doors 101 document for additional information.

What are MAQs?

The fire code set limits for the safe amount of hazardous materials that can be used or stored in a building, these limits are called Maximum Allowable Quantities (MAQs). Limiting the amount of hazardous materials helps maintain a safe building for occupants and for fire fighters when they need to enter the building during a fire emergency.

When can I use an extension cord?

You can only use an extension cord to power a portable appliance. Never use an extension cord to power a freezer, refrigerator, or any other appliance that has a high electrical draw. Remember that extension cords cannot be used in place of permanent wiring. For more information, please refer to our Electrical Safety document.

Can I use a space heater in my workstation?

Space heaters can start fires if not used properly. For this reason, it is required that you try to address the heating issue with Facilities Management before purchasing a space heater. A space heater must be UL listed, have a tip over safety switch, be plugged in directly to a wall outlet, and be kept 3 feet away from any combustible materials.

How do fire sprinklers work?

Pulling the fire alarm does not activate fire sprinklers. A sprinkler is activated by the heat from the fire. Depending on the type of sprinkler, they can have either a) metal link or b) glass vial that breaks at certain temperature which allows water to flow from the sprinkler head to put out the fire. This is one of the reasons why you should not hang anything on sprinklers as you can accidentally set it off.

Do I need to evacuate during a fire drill?

Yes, it is required by law to evacuate anytime the fire alarm is activated—this includes fire drills too.

Where is my building’s assembly area?

Your assembly area is listed in your department’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Generally, an assembly area is a place away from the building’s entrance where your department can safely gather when the building is evacuated and will not interfere with first responders’ access to the building. For a list of suggested assembly areas, visit UCSF Police Department Emergency Management website. Look under Emergency Action Plan Documents.

What are the do’s and don’ts for holiday decorations?

Take a look at our Holiday Displays & Decorations guidance document.

What are the requirements for setting up a tent in UCSF property?

All tents must be made from non-flammable materials or flame-resistant fabrics/materials with the appropriate Certificate of Flame Resistance provided by the manufacturer.
      Permit Required:
      Tents larger than 400 square feet require a permit from UCSF Building Permit Services. Contact [email protected] to start the permit process.
      No Permit Required, but UCSF Fire Prevention Approval is required:
           1) If in use for more than 180 days, tents 400 sq ft or smaller require a BPS permit.
           2) Tents that are open on all sides and are:
               a) Less than 700 sq ft.
               b) Have a clearance of 12 feet from structures and other tents.

Who do I contact if I see a fire hazard?

You can submit an anonymous report via the following link: or email us at [email protected]

My question wasn’t answered in FAQ, where else can I look?

You can do a keyword search on UCSF Fire Prevention Manual. You can also email any question to Fire Prevention at [email protected]