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Decoration/Display Compliance Guidelines

Decoration and Display Compliance Guidelines



Arizona State University’s (ASU) academic, research, and ancillary support operations, e.g., administrative services departments and student organizations, display and promote a variety of special interest functions as well as decorate for special occasions, events, and holidays. ASU must ensure all operations are safe and compliant with all applicable federal, state, and local codes, standards, and ordinances, e.g., Building Codes, Fire Codes, and Occupational Safety and Health.

The ASU Department of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) is responsible for inspecting and coordinating with each ASU department and organization to ensure a safe environment and operation. The following guidelines have been prepared for university personnel to facilitate proper use and setup of materials for decorations or displaying items on university property.


Decoration/Display Requirements
State and federal regulations specifically require university departments to maintain facilities in a manner that promotes a safe environment for occupants to enter and exit a facility as well as operations that are around facilities or considered temporary structures. The following guidelines will assist ASU in assuring facilities and operations are appropriately maintained:

  1. Any material used in lobbies, corridors, stairwells, or other common areas shall not obstruct the exit passageway and must be of non-combustible material, made of fire resistive material, or is fire retardant treated.

  2. Exit signs must be operational and visually unobstructed (illuminate appropriately).

  3. Decorations are prohibited near any heat source. Distance from heat sources can only be determined by evaluating the area, decorative materials, and determining the heat source’s capabilities.

  4. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation and use.

Decorations shall not obstruct or render any fire protection system inoperable.

Electrical Safety
The following guidelines must be ensured whenever electrical equipment, lighting, or any electrical wiring is utilized or affected by decorative materials or displays:

  1. All electrical equipment and lighting must be tested and approved by a recognized testing laboratory, e.g., Underwriters Laboratory (UL).

  2. All appliances and lighting must be inspected for damage and operability prior to use.

  3. Use appliances and lighting only as approved and recommended by the manufacturer. Lighting must be mounted in a manner that will not damage the wiring or be damaged by other equipment. Use of adhesive transparent tape to adhere wiring to walls or the use of hooks to drape wiring is acceptable for temporary conditions and approved by Environmental Health & Safety or the State Fire Marshal.

  4. Running electrical cords through doorways or any openings through walls, ceilings, or floors is prohibited.

  5. Extension cords must be at least a minimum of 16 gauge or heavier with a ground (three prong), and cannot run in series.

  6. The use of multi-plug adapters is prohibited. (Exception: any adapter or cord that has an operational circuit breaker is acceptable for more than one appliance as long as used within the recommended use, design, and load capacities of the manufacturer.)

Christmas Trees and Other Plant Life
Below are state fire marshal and other code requirements to follow whenever decorating or displaying materials utilizing any plant life for the interior or exterior of a facility:

  1. Cut Christmas trees are prohibited--only fire retardant artificial trees or "live" trees are acceptable (root type in soil). Live rooted trees must be checked daily and watered as needed.

  2. Trees shall not be located in any manner that will block or obstruct an exit or passageway. Only approved lighting shall be used on trees. Ensure that all electrical wiring is in good condition and connections are secure.

  3. Any decorations on or around the tree must be non-combustible or properly treated with fire retardant material.

  4. Palm fronds and any other cut vegetation is prohibited unless approved by RM for specific temporary use and verified all vegetation is fire retardant treated. (Exception: cut flowers are acceptable for temporary display in a personal area as long as it does not create a fire hazard.)

Candles/Open Flames and Other Heat Sources
Any item utilized for decoration or display that generates or emits heat must comply with the following guidelines:

  1. Use of candles, open flames, and burning are prohibited in all university buildings. (Exception: Authorized "hot work" by qualified maintenance personnel and temporary approval granted by the ASU Fire Marshal or State Fire Marshal--Temporary approval is granted on a one-time individual case-by-case basis.)

  2. Portable heaters and other portable heat generating equipment must have appropriate safety features to automatically shut off power to equipment whenever tipped over or the temperature of the device exceeds the manufacturer’s pre-determined heat exposure limit, (must be U.L. listed).

  3. Use of any type of heat generating product or equipment must be utilized as recommended by the manufacturer.

Temporary Structures
Temporary structures are any facility that is designed for temporary use or defined as temporary construction, e.g., trailers and tents. Each temporary structure must comply with the following:

  1. Trailer, tents, temporary walls or ceilings constructed of any materials must be approved by the ASU Fire Marshal or State Fire Marshal.

  2. From any point, a minimum of a 2-A:10-B:C rated fire extinguisher must be within a 75 feet travel distance for light to moderate hazard areas, 50 feet for high hazard areas. (Travel distance cannot include steps, through secured doors, or any special conditions that restrict the user in obtaining the fire extinguisher and returning to fight the fire.)

  3. Special fire protection measures may be necessary for events to meet requirements of the Uniform Building and Fire Codes. (These measures are determined by submitting the purpose and all pertinent information relating to the temporary structure to the ASU Fire Marshal or State Fire Marshal.)

The department, organization, or individual must contact the insurance coordinator to determine any requirements for a certificate of insurance for any event or non-ASU representation that is planned on ASU property.


International Fire Code Chapter 8 (2003 edition)
Arizona Administrative Code R4-36-201 et seq.



Arizona State University Fire Prevention and Safety Plan - PDF

This guideline is provided as a general guideline for decorations/displaying items and does not cover all code compliance issues. If you have any questions or concerns, or need additional information, contact the ASU Fire Marshal and insurance services coordinator at 480.965.1823 or e-mail at