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The location/use of electrical appliances in corridors/escape routes


Various electrical appliances are being used within corridors and escape routes in University premises. While, at present, this practice is not widespread, the potential hazards involved justify guidance to ensure standardisation and control.

The following should be brought to the attention of all relevant persons within your School/Unit.

It is expected that Heads of Schools/Units will apply the following risk assessment to any existing circumstances. Future proposals to use electrical appliances within corridors or escape routes should be submitted to the University Fire Officer for guidance.

The broad term electrical appliances covers a wide variety of apparatus which operate at mains voltage and includes:-

  • refrigerators; photocopiers; computers; soft drinks dispensing machines; cookers; heaters; kettles, etc.

Protected escape routes

Protected escape routes are stairs/corridors entered by fire doors leading to the open air. The location/use of any electrical appliances within protected escape routes is not permitted under Fire Safety Legislation and shall not be permitted under any circumstances.

Unprotected escape routes

Unprotected escape routes are normally corridors linking parts of a building sometimes connecting to protected escape routes.

The use of electrical appliances in unprotected escape routes is generally highly undesirable.

The location and use of electrical appliances such as refrigerators, photocopiers, soft drinks vending machines, may be approved in these areas providing all the criteria listed in the following risk assessment are met.

Note: Electrical appliances such as cookers, heaters, kettles and computer workstations, are not permitted in these areas.

Fire Risk Assessment

The following criteria should be used:

  • Does the appliance have to be there?

Can it be moved to a more suitable location within a room and not merely be put in the corridor for the sake of convenience.

  • Escape route obstruction and width

The appliance must not obstruct the escape route.

The minimum escape route width must be maintained (this width varies in different premises, but generally is between 1-2 metres)

  • Automatic Fire Detection (AFD) system

The premises must be fitted with an AFD system.

The appliance should be sited within a distance of 3 metres from the nearest detector head.

Action  by Heads

1. Existing electrical appliances

Any existing appliances should be assessed to ensure they meet with the above risk assessment criteria. Where they do not comply with all aspects of the risk assessment the appliance should be removed and/or re-positioned to a suitable location approved by the University Fire Officer.

2. Proposal to position a new electrical appliance

The proposal to place a new electrical appliance, e.g. in a corridor, should not be carried out until approval is obtained from the University Fire Officer.

Further advice regarding protected routes, escape route widths, or any other items in this guidance can be obtained by contacting the University Fire Officer at Environmental, Health and Safety Services, on Ext. 2749.


Mr Steven McKenzie, Fire Safety Adviser

Environmental Health and Safety Services
Bute Building, Queens Terrace
St Andrews
KY16 9TS
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462782
Fax:+44 (0)1334 462747