Fire and Life Safety | Environmental Health and Safety | Virginia Tech
Environmental Health and Safety

Fire Prevention

Fire prevention starts with identifying fire hazards. All members of the university community - faculty, staff, students and visitors - have a personal obligation to be aware of fire hazards and to reduce or eliminate the risk of fire on our campus.

Identifying Common Fire Hazards

The following is a list of common fire hazards found during daily activities on campus.

Combustible Waste Material Waste accumulation is prohibited. When these items are allowed to accumulate, the risk of fire is increased. Under the right conditions, the buildup of dust from wood, plastic or certain metal operations can lead to a fire or explosion. Construction debris must be properly disposed of to eliminate the risk of fire.
Ignition Sources A safe clearance between ignition sources such as light fixtures, heaters and flame-producing devices, to name a few, and combustible materials needs to be maintained. For specific requirements look under basic Fire Prevention Strategies.
Open Burning Due to the hazards associated with open burning, all such activities require an open burn permit. A permit application for an activity can be submitted to EHS, Fire Safety Engineer. Further information on the requirements for an Open Burn Permit can be found here.
Open Flames Similar to open burns, activities involving open flames require an open flame permit. Open flames activities include, but not limited to, all open flame decorative devices, candles, theatrical performances, religious ceremonies, torches for removing paint, lanterns, kerosene heaters, and gas fired heaters. Further information on the requirements for an Open Flame Permit can be found here.
Powered Industrial Trucks Powered industrial trucks necessitate additional fire safety requirements due to battery-powered electric motors or internal combustion engines using liquid fuel or LP gas. These additional requirements can be found here.
Smoking Smoking is prohibited in facilities owned or leased by the university. Outdoors, discarded smoking materials carelessly tossed in waste containers or into landscaping can easily start a fire. Use approved waste containers to discard all smoking materials properly.
Vehicle Impact Protection Vehicle impact protection is required at locations where a moving vehicle could strike a piece of equipment that contains fuel or is fuel fired. Guard posts and other physical barriers must be installed to prevent impact to the equipment.
Indoor Displays Indoor displays of merchandise or other items pose a number of fire hazards to building occupants, such as blocked egress paths and rapid fire burning.
Miscellaneous Combustible The management of combustible materials storage in buildings will reduce the risk of fire.
Storage Materials should be stored in such a way that they will not obstruct the fire suppression sprinkler heads. Items should be stored 18 inches away from the ceiling if the room or area is protected by a fire suppression system (sprinklers) and 24 inches from the ceiling if there is no fire suppression system. Exceptions are allowed for attached wall shelving unless located directly under a sprinkler head. If wall shelving is located directly under sprinkler head the 18" clearance should be maintained.

Back to top

Basic Fire Prevention Requirements

After identifying the hazards in your area, take action to eliminate or control these hazards and prevent fires.


Accumulation of combustible materials The accumulation of combustible materials (such as cardboard boxes, magazine/journals and paper products) is prohibited. Combustible material must never be stored any closer than 36" from a heating appliance or electrical light. Items no longer in use should be properly disposed to avoid stacking and accumulation on counters, top of cabinets, floors and desks.
Scrap, waste materials, dust and trash When these items are allowed to accumulate, the risk of fire is increased. Under the right conditions, the buildup of dust from wood, plastic or certain metal operations can lead to a fire or explosion.
Plastic and foam items The storage and use of foam or plastic cups, utensils, etc. close to heat sources should not be allowed. These materials are combustibles and can quickly start a fire (e.g. Foam cups left next to a coffee maker). Plastic foam also burns rapidly and gives off dense toxic black smoke.
Material Storage Ceiling Clearance - 24 inches in non-sprinkle red buildings is strictly required for ceiling clearance. This will allow manual hose streams of water to effectively reach the top of a burning piles and any adjunct storage.

Ceiling clearances of 18 inches is required in splintered areas to allow the even distribution of water to the storage.

Means of Egress - Combustible materials cannot be stored in corridors or egress paths that could jeopardize the safety of occupants leaving the building.

Equipment Rooms - Combustible materials cannot be stored in boiler rooms, mechanical rooms or electrical closet and equipment rooms.

Fueled Equipment - Motorcycles, mopeds, lawn-care equipment and portable cooking equipment cannot be stored inside buildings. The exception to these is those spaces that are designed and rated for the specific fueled equipment, such as a garage (contact EHS Fire Safety Engineer to affirm the design specifications for a space in question).

Storage under canopies and roofs that project from the building - This would include loading docks, entrance canopies, etc. Storage is permitted if an automatic sprinkler system is present.

Storage Heights - Piled storage in the open cannot exceed 20 feet. This will reduce the size of a potential fire and prevent tip-over potential.
Decorations Decorations, signs and other items should not be hung on or near the sprinkler head.
Obstructing Portable Fire Extinguishers Access to portable fire extinguishers should not be obstructed by other equipment, furniture or miscellaneous storage. Extinguishers must be clearly visible with notification signs displayed.
Spills on Floor Any condition causing leaks or drips of flammable or combustible liquids should be corrected. The area of the spill should be cleaned immediately (contact EHS for additional clean-up requirements).
Hoarding Hoarding increases the risk of fire and possible structural damage due to increased weight loading on floors. Maintain premises free of unneeded and unnecessary combustible materials. Surplus or properly discard unused items being stockpiled or hoarded. Hoarding is a serious fire code violation and will be treated as such.
Clear Passage Keep passageways clear of obstacles, including furniture, trash, misc. storage and equipment.
Materials that spontaneously combust Oily rags or other materials soaked in oil can start a fire by themselves if placed in areas where the air does not circulate. Contact EHS for additional requirements for Oily Rags.

Back to top

Interior Finishes and Decorations

Interior decorations are a common factor in the spread of fire. Decorations used during the holiday seasons are always a large concern. It is necessary to ensure that all decorations used meet the requirements of safety and fire resistance.

Interior Finish The following are requirements to consider when planning a renovation or refinish of walls, ceilings and floors:
  • All new finishes must meet the minimum requirements of NFPA standards and the building code.
  • Finish materials in corridors, places of public assembly and high hazard areas must be "Class A". This is the highest protection rating dealing with the flame spread and smoke production of a product or material.
Documentation Any decoration, whether purchased from a store, dealer, catalog or other business or if handmade, will require documentation acceptable to EHS Fire Safety and/or the SFMO that the materials used meet the fire safety standards of fire resistance and safety.
Materials (Fire resistance) All materials used in decorations must meet the minimum requirements of NFPA 701, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Resistant Textiles and Films. EHS Fire Safety will provide the specific requirements upon request. It is recommended that you contact EHS Fire Safety for consultation prior to purchasing or installing decorations if you are unsure of its rating.
Amount of Decorations According to the Statewide Fire Prevention Code, the amount of combustible materials posted on the walls should be limited to 10% of the existing wall space of an area. The amount of decorations used will be limited by the following criteria:
  • Decorations must not obstruct any corridor, exit or safety device.
  • Decorations, paper, signs, etc. are not permitted on doors
  • No amount of any combustibles that would aid in the rapid spread of fire such that it could endanger or entrap the occupants (e.g. plastic or chemical based products such as banners, flags, tapestry or foam material).
The amount of decorations may affect the occupant load of the area if such decorations cover any required floor area used in the calculation of the occupant load.
General requirements include: Vegetation - Vegetation such as hay stacks, leaves, branches, large amounts of plant cuttings, etc. may not be used in any Virginia Tech building unless approved by EHS Fire Safety and documentation of adequate fire resistance is provided in advance of using the material.

Live christmas trees - May not be used inside any Virginia Tech building or facility.

Locations - Decorations must not be attached to, hung from, or obstruct any emergency device or fire protection equipment (e.g. fire alarm panel, portable fire extinguishers), including sprinkler heads and piping.

Combustible decorations must not be hung from ceilings in such a way that a fire could ignite the decorations and endanger the occupants before evacuation. Unauthorized items found during inspections will be required to be removed.

Electrical - Electrical lights, decorations, and cords must comply with the following conditions:
  • The device must be tested and approved by a recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters' Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM). The device must bear the appropriate label, sticker or tag supplied by the manufacturer.
  • Do not use electrical decorations or cords on combustible vegetation, dry trees, curtains or any other combustible material that may be ignited by the heat or potential electrical short of the device.
  • Multiple electrical devices may be plugged into an approved "Power Strip", which incorporates a breaker, on/off switch, and is surge protected. Power strip must be plugged directly into a wall outlet. This allowance does not apply to heat producing devices (e.g. space heaters), which must be plugged directly into an outlet.
  • Electrical decorations must be turned off and should be unplugged at the end of the day or when the building will be unoccupied for an extended period.
  • Electrical decorations or cords must not be laid or taped across floors where they could become damaged.
  • Any electrical decoration or cord that is damaged, worn, showing signs of overheating, etc. must be taken out of service and repaired or replaced.

Back to top

Fire-Rated Doors and Fire-Resistant Barriers

Fire-rated Doors Fire-rated doors are generally found at any opening to a corridor, stairwell, storage room, and mechanical and/or electrical equipment room. Contact EHS Fire Safety Engineer for more information on identifying fire doors in your area.

Blocking fire/smoke rated doors with wedges or other items allows smoke and fire to spread rapidly through a building, possibly preventing occupants from quickly evacuating during a fire emergency. Fire/smoke rated doors are allowed to be propped open during maintenance and house keeping operations only when the attendant is in the immediate area.
Renovation Projects All building materials used in renovation and building projects must meet the state fire code requirements for fire-resistance, and all work must be performed in accordance with the building code requirements. All renovation projects must comply with University Policy 5405.
Firestopping All penetrations of floors, ceilings, and/or walls are avenues for smoke and heat travel. These penetrations must be properly fire stopped where required. Contact EHS for more information on fire stopping requirements. Ceiling tiles also provide a fire/smoke barrier and should be properly maintained. Ceiling tiles that are damaged, missing or disturbed for any reason should be restored to their original condition or replaced.

Back to top

Electrical Hazards

Use of extension cords and multiple plug adapters

Multiple plug adapters without over-current protection are not permitted on campus.

Extension cords may only be used for temporary operations and must never be used as permanent wiring. Examples of temporary use would include housekeepers using a vacuum cleaner and portable AV equipment. Using the right size extension cord for the equipment being used is required.

Flexible cords and cables--including extension cords--must be protected from accidental damage, as might be caused, for example, by sharp corners, projections, and doorways or other pinch points. They may not be run through holes in wall, ceilings or floors, attached to building surfaces, or run concealed behind walls, floors or above ceilings.

Power strips with circuit breaker protection and 3 to 20 foot cords may be used in place of residential extension cords. Each power strip must be plugged directly into the wall outlet. The Fire Code prohibits "daisy" chaining power strips into one another.

If additional outlets are required place a work order with Facilities Services.

Electric space heaters Many buildings on campus have uneven heat distribution, causing occupants to bring electric space heaters into their work areas. Be sure heaters have tip over automatic safety cut-offs and that the wiring is in good condition. 3 feet clearance is required around the heater. Placing a space heater near or in contact with combustible materials can be a fire hazard. Thus, it is prohibited. Heaters that use resistive coils (where the hot coil is visible from the exterior) are also prohibited.
Portable Fans Small portable fans help improve ventilation in an area. They can also pose a fire hazard if placed near combustible materials, around flammable liquids or where the blades of the fan can easily catch items. Make sure wiring on fans is not damaged and complies with the National Electrical code. Contact EHS Fire Safety Engineer for further information.
Wiring, Switches and Plugs Overloaded circuits, damaged wiring and defective switches and outlets can all lead to electrical fires. Inspect all wiring, switches and plugs. Report any damage found to Facilities Services (231-4300) and have a qualified electrician make any repairs necessary before using.
Electrical Outlets All electrical outlets are required to have proper cover plates in place at all times. If a cover plate is found missing, report it to Facilities Services (231-4300) to have the hazard corrected.
Junction Boxes and Electrical Panels Junction boxes and the breakers/disconnects in electrical circuit panels are required to be properly labeled advising what it controls for emergency response and maintenance personnel. Cover plates are required to be in place at all times. Open spaces in electrical panels can expose wiring. All open spaces must be closed with the proper blanks. Tape and labels directly attached to breaker switches is not permitted.
Wet Electrical Cords Do not use electric cords or equipment that is damp or wet unless they are approved for such use (contact EHS Fire Safety Engineer for more information). Do not connect or disconnect electrical cords or equipment when your hands are wet.
Overloaded Motors or Circuits Do not overload motors or circuits; overloaded motors and circuits can easily be a source of ignition.
Lighting Fixtures Report any problems with lighting fixtures to Facilities Services (231-4300) immediately. Storage must be at least 3 feet below overhead light fixtures.
Faulty Heating Elements Faulty heating elements can be a source of fire. Report any problem with heating equipment to Facilities Services (231-4300) immediately.
Don't try to fix electrical problems yourself! Report all electrical problems immediately to Facilities Services (231-4300) so that a qualified electrician can make the repairs.

Back to top

Hazardous Chemicals

Hazardous chemicals are defined by the fire code as those that pose an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of operating or emergency personnel, the public and/or the environment if not properly controlled during storage, handling, use, disposal and transportation. They are classified as physical hazards and may also pose health hazards.

Additional requirements may also apply to certain high-risk areas on campus, such as laboratories and other areas on campus. Be sure to check the Hazardous Chemical Management Program for specific requirements or contact the University Chemical Hygiene Officer at 231-7611.

Flammable liquid means any liquid having a flashpoint below 100° F. (37.8° C.), except any mixture having components with flashpoints of 100° F. (37.8° C.) or higher, the total of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture. Check your Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for characteristics or classification of a particular liquid.

Class I flammable liquids are divided into three classes as follows:

Class IA Liquids having flashpoints below 73°F (22.8°C) and having a boiling point below 100°F (37.8°C).
Class IB Liquids having flashpoints below 73°F (22.8°C) and having a boiling point at or above 100°F (37.8°C).
Class IC Liquids having flashpoints at or above 73°F (22.8°C) and below 100°F (37.8°C).

Combustible liquid means any liquid having a flashpoint at or above 100°F (37.8°C) Combustible liquids are divided into two classes as follows:

Class II liquids Liquids with flashpoints at or above 100°F (37.8°C) and below 140°F (60°C).

Class III liquids
Liquids with flashpoints at or above 140°F (60°C) Class III liquids are subdivided into two subclasses:
Class IIIA liquids Those with flashpoints at or above 140°F (60°C) and below 200°F (93.3°C).
Class IIIB liquids Those with flashpoints at or above 200°F (93.3°C).

When a combustible liquid is heated for use to within 30° F. (16.7° C.) of its flashpoint, it must be handled in accordance with the requirements for the next lower class of liquids, with Class I liquids being the most volatile. Check your MSDS sheets for characteristics or classification of a particular liquid.

The quantity of flammable and combustible liquids you can have in storage and use should be limited to the minimum amount needed to support your daily operations. Do not stockpile materials and do not buy in bulk without prior approval from EHS.

There are also limitations on quantities stored in individual containers:

Condition Flammable Liquids
(US gallons)
Combustible liquids
(US gallons)
Glass or approved plastic 1pt. 1qt. 1 1 1
Metal (other than DOT drum) 1 5 5 5 5
Safety cans 2 5 5 5 5
Note: Nearest metric size is also acceptable.

The purchase and storage of flammable and combustible liquids in 55-gallon drums or larger containers is discouraged and will only be allowed with prior approval from EHS.

General guidelines for hazardous chemicals

Substitution Where possible, flammable chemicals should be replaced by safer, less flammable ones to reduce the risk of fires. Any substituted material should be stable, non-toxic and should either be nonflammable or have a high flashpoint.
Storage The proper storage of flammable liquids in a work area is required to reduce the risk of fire and prevent health hazards. Remember that the quantities that can be stored in one location are limited. Storage areas should be provided with at least fire extinguishers, but a fire protection system must be considered for any large storage area.

Flammable liquid storage cabinets should be used wherever flammable liquids are stored and used. Contrary to popular thinking, they are not designed to contain a fire but are designed to prevent a fire outside from reaching the contents of the cabinet for a period of 10 minutes - just enough time to allow escape from the area.
Handling Flammable and combustible liquids require careful handling at all times. Containers should be tightly sealed when not in use, and liquids should be stored in an area where temperature is stable to prevent a buildup of internal pressure due to vaporization. Safety cans are a good risk management tool where smaller quantities of liquids are handled. They prevent spillage and have spring-loaded safety caps that prevent vapors from escaping and act as a pressure vent if the can is engulfed in fire, preventing explosion and rocketing of the can, which could spread the fire.

Users are expected to limit the risk of a fire by reducing the quantities of liquids located outside of storage cabinets/areas. Quantities of flammable and combustible liquids located outside of storage cabinets/areas should be restricted to one day's supply or to what can be used during a single shift.

Some flammable liquids, such as xylene, toluene, benzene and gasoline have a tendency to accumulate a static electric charge. If the charged is released a spark can be produced and ignition can result. Most nonpolar solvents - they do no mix with water - have this characteristic. Polar solvent, such as acetone and other ketones and alcohols, don't usually present static charges. To prevent the build up of static charge, it is important to bond metal dispensing and receiving containers together before pouring - each container is wired together and one container is connected to a good ground point to allow any charge that may develop to drain away safely.

Because there is no easy way to bond plastic containers, their use should be limited to smaller sizes - no more than 4L.
Ventilation To prevent the accumulation of vapors inside a flammable or combustible materials storage room or area, a continuous mechanical ventilation system must be in place. Both makeup and exhaust air openings must be arranged to provide air movement directly to the exterior of the building. Any exhaust ventilation ducts must be exclusive to the system and used for no other purposes.
Elimination of Ignition Sources All nonessential ignition sources must be eliminated where flammable liquids are used or stored. The following is a list of the most common sources of ignition.
  • Open flames from cutting and welding operations.
  • Furnaces
  • Matches
  • Heater, portable or fixed
  • Motors, switches, and circuit breakers need to be explosion-proof in areas where flammable liquids are used or stored.
  • Mechanical sparks from friction. Use non-sparking tools in these areas.
  • Proper grounding and bonding procedures must be used to eliminate static sparks when transferring flammable liquids to and from containers.
  • Smoking materials
Removal of Incompatibles Materials that can contribute to a flammable liquid fire should not be stored with flammable liquids. (Examples: oxidizers and organic peroxides)
Aerosol spray cans Read labels of all spray cans to identify those with flammable gas-propellants. Butane and propane is the most common propellant and should never be exposed to heat or flames.
Spills If a spill occurs, employees should take the following actions:
  • Limit its spread by diking the spill with a suitable absorbent material
  • Minimize vapors by covering the surface of the spill with the same material.
  • Notify your supervisor immediately and contact VTPD and/or EHS for assistance and guidance.
  • Make sure all sources of ignitions are shut off or controlled.
  • Call EHS to initiate the proper cleanup right away.
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheets must be readily available at the location for emergency responders.
Hazard Identification Signs Visible hazard identification signs are required for the specific material in stationary containers and aboveground tanks and at entrances to locations where hazardous materials are stored, dispensed, used or handled.

Signs are required to alert occupants and emergency responders who may unknowingly enter an area containing hazardous materials.

The recommended hazard identification sign is the NFPA 704 diamond.

Container labeling must be in accordance with the Hazardous Chemical Management Program.

Back to top

Compressed Gas Containers, Cylinders and Tanks

Flammable compressed gases hazards are it is easily ignitability or can be explosive when mixed with air.

The hazards posed by nonflammable compressed gases are toxicity, reactivity or the ability to support combustion.

The following are requirements for the storage, handling and use of all compressed gases whether they are flammable or nonflammable.

Labeling and Marking All compressed gas containers, cylinders, tanks and systems must be marked according to ANSI A13.1, CGA C-7 or NFPA 704 depending on whether the compressed gas is stationary, portable or piped. Contact EHS Fire Safety if unclear about labeling or markings.
Inspection Perform a visual inspection before you accept delivery of the cylinder from the vendor. If the cylinder appears to be damaged or defective, refuse delivery!

Routinely inspect cylinders that are in use for:
  • leaking regulators,
  • physical damage to the cylinder or valves,
  • dented, bulging, gouged or corroded
Do not use a cylinder that appears to be faulty. Take it out of service immediately and contact the vendor.

All gas cylinders must have proper labeling. Labeling must also indicate if the cylinder is full, empty or in-service.
Security and protection All compressed gas containers, cylinders, and tanks must be safeguarded to prevent dislodgement by accident or unauthorized personnel.

Physical protection may include guard posts, fenced-in areas or specifically designed storage areas with approved separation.
Container supports The danger associated with all compressed gases is the potential for energy release by container or fitting fixtures. For this reason fire code requires all compressed gas cylinders to be properly secured as a means of protection against physical or mechanical damage. This can be done by:
    1. Securing containers, cylinders and tanks to a fixed object with one or more restraints.
    2. Securing containers, cylinders and tanks on a cart or other mobile device designed for movement.
    3. Nesting of containers, cylinders and tanks at filling or servicing facilities being careful not to obstruct the means of egress.
Overpressure protection All compressed gas cylinders, except those containing highly toxic gases, are equipped with pressure relief devices as a measure of protection against catastrophic container failure. These devices operate when compressed gas pressure, temperature or both exceed safe limits. Identifying this protection and making sure it has not been painted over, removed, damaged, contaminated, obstructed or impaired is the responsibility of the person using the cylinder.
Housekeeping Check valves, filters, flash arrestors and other gas system apparatus must be maintained in good operating condition and free of dirt and debris that can clog filters and block valves.
Separation and Storage Separating gas system installations and incompatible gases (flammables and oxidizers) to reduce explosion hazards is one of the easiest safeguards to implement. Separation requirements include:
  • Incompatible materials,
  • Combustible waste, vegetation and similar materials,
  • Ledges, platforms and elevators,
  • Temperature extremes
  • Falling objects
  • Heating
  • Sources of ignition, and
  • Exposure to chemicals
Cylinders can be separated with a barrier, such as concrete block wall, at least 5 feet high, having a fire rating of at least 1/2 hour. Contact EHS Fire Safety Engineer for different construction options.

A gas cylinder storage area should be located where they cannot be knocked over or damaged by falling objects, and must be protected from vehicular impact.

As with any hazardous material, gas cylinders cannot be stored in public hallways or unprotected areas. Nonflammable cylinders should not be located closer than 5 feet and flammable cylinders no closer than 25 feet from an exit or unprotected opening such as a window.

When a cylinder is not being used, the valve should be closed and the valve protector secured in place. Never store gas cylinders near radiators or other heat sources.

Bulk storage rooms must be specifically designed for the purposes otherwise quantities will be limited. Contact EHS Fire Safety to obtain approval for any new installation of a cylinder storage area inside or outside campus buildings.
Handling Be sure to close all cylinder values when they are empty or not in use. Regulators must be removed and valve protection caps secured in place before moving cylinders.

When transporting cylinders, always use a cylinder truck or cart to avoid cylinders tipping, falling or rolling. Never roll or drag a gas cylinder. Use appropriate lifting devices, such as cradles or nets when hoisting a cylinder with a crane or derrick for vehicle transport. Lifting a gas cylinder with a magnet, sling or by the valve protection cap can lead to disaster and is prohibited.

When opening a valve on a cylinder, stand to one side of the regulator and open the valve slowly.

Do not attempt or repair a gas cylinder regulator; call your distributor immediately.
Medical Gas Systems Compressed gases intended for inhalation or sedation present additional hazards. Contact EHS, Fire Safety for additional requirements.
Additional information Additional information can be found in NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 55, 2005 edition, Standard for the Storage, Use and Handling of Compressed and Liquefied Gases in Portable Cylinders. A copy of this information can be obtained from the Fire Safety Engineer at EHS.

Back to top

Building and Renovating Space

The Office of the University Building Official has primary responsibility for the proper management for, and enforcement of, the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC) to ensure that construction projects conducted on property owned by the university are completed in compliance with the code, related laws, and regulations. For additional information concerning this subject visit Building Code Compliance.

Back to top

Miscellaneous Requirements

Landscaping Landscaping must not:
  • Impede fire vehicle or emergency responder access to a building.
  • Obstruct access to fire hydrants, fire department connections or other fire sprinkler test valves or other emergency devices.
  • Obstruct or cause a tripping hazard for occupants evacuating a building to a public way.
  • Obstruct exits from doors, windows or other designated evacuation points from a building.
Breaches in fire or smoke rated barriers
  • Holes in fire rated walls or smoke barriers will not be permitted unless the condition is allowed by the Virginia Statewide Uniform Building code or has been approved by the Virginia Tech Building Code Engineer.
  • Doors, windows, hatches, visual panels, etc. may not breach a firewall or smoke barrier unless allowed by the Virginia Statewide Uniform Building code or has been approved by the Virginia Tech Building Code Engineer.
  • Cables, equipment cords, etc. may not be placed in or run through any permitted opening in a rated fire wall or smoke barrier, such as through a door or within ventilation ductwork.
Wood and sheet metal workshops
  • All wood and metal shavings produced by the work must be cleaned and removed from the building at the end of the job or the workday as appropriate.
  • All shops with machinery that produce hazardous shavings or dust must have an approved dust collection system. This system must be in operation at all times the equipment is in use.
Washer/Clothes Dryer operations
  • Empty the lint catcher in clothes dryers after each load.
  • Check the area behind the washer and dryer periodically for lint or trash build-up and clean as necessary.
  • Dryer vents must exhaust to the exterior of the building.
Automotive and industrial shops At the end of the work day, or as necessary:
  • Clean all work areas of oil to prevent a build up.
  • Return all oils and flammables to their proper storage cabinets/areas.
  • Turn off all power equipment or unplug as necessary.
  • Turn off all fuel valves and power to such systems at the end of the workday.
All hazardous and flammable materials (paints, thinners, etc.) must be properly stored in a flammable storage cabinet or room when not in use. Go here for guidance on the storage, handling and use of flammable and combustible liquids.

Parts washers may use flammable solvents. Check the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the product used and follow the instructions on the MSDS and the guidance on page 15.

Spray finishing with flammable materials is only allowed in approved paint spray booths. Contact EHS Fire Safety Engineer for fire safety and building/fire code permit requirements for spray booths at 231-9068.
Art departments
  • When using flammable liquids (such as gasoline, kerosene, etc.) to create, or in a display of, artwork, written approval is required from EHS Fire Safety prior to the activity.
  • Electrical wiring and devices used in art creations or display must meet the requirements of the National Electrical Code. For more information, see the Electrical Safety Program.
  • All hazardous and flammable materials (paints, thinners, etc.) must be properly stored in a flammable storage cabinet or room when not in use.
  • Heating devices such as blowtorches with open flames must be permitted with a Hot Work Permit.