!DOCTYPE html> UofR: EHS: Fire Safety: MC-Patient Care Areas Holiday Decorations
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Environmental Health & Safety

Medical Center and Patient Care Areas

Holiday and Seasonal Decorations

Display Guidelines


This guideline is developed to address the issue of displaying holiday and/or seasonal decorations within the University of Rochester Medical Center and Patient Care areas.  The Medical Center areas include:

  • School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Research Buildings (KMRB, Del Monte Institute, Saunders Research Institute)
  • Eastman Dental Center
  • Helen Wood Hall
  • Patient care areas include:
    • Ambulatory Care Facility
    • Wilmot Cancer Center
    • Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong
    • Strong West
    • Sawgrass Surgical Center
    • Strong Memorial Hospital including the Emergency Building and Behavioral Health
    • Additional areas that are affected are the 3000 building (Eye Institute) and 5000 building

There are numerous fire safety-related hazards that can be created by such decorations.  Policies concerning holiday decorations vary dependent upon the type of building construction, occupancy and fire detection and suppression equipment utilized.



  1. The use of natural trees (cut or alive), natural wreaths, garland, boughs, or greenery is prohibited except as approved by the Fire Marshal because of its fire potential and rapid flame spread.
  2. Only artificial trees, wreaths, garland, boughs, or greenery labeled as fire resistant or flame retardant, that is UL listed, are permitted. 
  3. Christmas trees and related combustible decorations are not permitted in corridors, aisles, stairways or passageways.  Trees and related decorations are not allowed to obstruct the view of exit signs or any life safety device (i.e., fire extinguisher, pull station, horn/strobe, sprinkler head or piping, etc) and reduce required exit widths.
  4. The following combustible materials are prohibited for use in holiday decorations – hay or straw, bamboo, dry moss, wood shavings, dry leaves, wood back, corn stalks and corn shucks, saw dust, tumbleweed, flammable powders or liquids, plastic sheeting/pallets, cotton batting, flock, paper streamers or confetti in large quantities.


  1. Electric light sets used shall bear the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) label and be identified for indoor use.
  2. All holiday lights shall be turned off before leaving the area and at the end of the workday.
  3. The use of holiday lights and electric ornaments in corridors and over exit doors is prohibited.  Wiring shall not be strung through doors or ceilings or be placed under carpeting.
  4. No extension cords shall be used.
  5. Only 1 (UL 1363 listed) power strip can be used.  This device shall be surge protected.  No piggybacking (multiple power strips plugged into each other), cube taps, and use of a flexible (twisty) power strip shall not be allowed.  If possible, plug the light strand directly into a power outlet.
  6. No more than three sets of holiday lights shall be connected together.
  7. Before use, light strings should be carefully checked to ensure there are no loose sockets and that wires are not frayed or damaged.
  8. Light strings can generate enough heat to ignite paper or cardboard.  Holiday lights should not come into contact with paper, packages, cloth or other combustible items.
  9. Electrical outlets shall not be overloaded. Use only the gray or brown electrical outlets, as they are not on emergency power circuit.
  10. Light strings shall not be attached to walls or molding with staples, tacks, nails or paper tape.  Use electrical tape or string them with cup-type hooks.


  1. Fire and smoke doors shall not be decorated.
  2. Decorations shall not obstruct views through windows and door vision panels.
  3. Any open flame, including candles is prohibited.  As an option, an electric candle may be used.
  4. Displaying or hanging paper decorations shall not be permitted unless they are non-combustible or limited combustible, such as foil wrapping.  No paper wrapping is allowed. Approved non-combustible items cannot be hung from sprinklers, smoke detections, emergency lights or any life safety equipment.
  5. Limited spray snow is allowed.

These are guidelines only; for specific questions, please contact the University Fire Marshal’s Office at 275-3243.


Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 10/31/2016. Disclaimer.