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Environmental Health & Safety

Memorial Art Gallery Guidelines for Safe Holiday Decorations


There has been an increasing tendency to decorate rooms, offices and public areas for holidays.  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, fire detection and suppression equipment utilized.  The following are a number of holiday decoration guidelines for the Memorial Art Gallery:


  1. The use of natural trees (cut), natural wreaths, boughs, or greenery are prohibited at the MAG, except as approved by the Fire Marshal, because of its fire potential and rapid flame spread.
  2. Only use artificial trees, wreaths, boughs, garland or greenery labeled as fire resistant or flame retardant (UL 2358) are permitted.
  3. Artificial trees may be metallic or non-metallic.
  4. Do not place electric lights on metallic trees.  Remote spotlights are recommended for use with metal trees to avoid an electrical hazard.
  5. Christmas trees and related combustible decorations are not permitted in corridors, aisles, stairways or passageways. 
  6. Trees and related decorations are not allowed to obstruct the usual view of exit signs or any other life safety device (i.e., fire extinguisher, pull station, horn/strobe, sprinkler head or piping, etc.)
  7. 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, untreated cotton batting, flock, paper streamers or confetti in large quantities.
  8. For holiday decorations, use plastic or foil decorations such as satin balls, plastic icicles, holiday ribbon.  Limited use of spray snow and tinsel are also permissible.
  9. Combustible material such as as wrapping paper, contact paper and plastic may not be placed on more than 5% of the surface of interior non-rated doors.
  10. Approved non-combustible items cannot be hung from sprinklers, smoke detectors, emergency lights or any life safety equipment.



  1. Battery-operated LED strip lighting is not allowed.
  2. Every LED electric light set used must bear the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) label and be identified for indoor use.
  3. All holiday LED lights shall be turned off before leaving the area, and at the end of the work day.
  4. The use of holiday lights, electric ornaments and extension cords in corridors and over exit doors is prohibited. Wiring shall not be strung through doors or ceilings or placed under carpeting.
  5. No extension cords shall be used - only 1 (UL 1363 listed) power strip can be used. No piggybacking (multiple power strips plugged into each other other). Cube taps and the use of flexible (twisty) power strips shall not be allowed. If possible, plug directly into a power outlet.
  6. No more than three sets of holiday LED 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. Light strings should 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. The use of candles, lanterns, oil lamps or any type of other open flames is prohibited.  As an option, electrical candles may be used.
  2. Fire and smoke doors SHALL NOT be decorated.
  3. Decorations on other doors shall not obstruct views through door vision panels.


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

This page last updated 10/17/2022. Disclaimer.