Use of Corridors and Unassigned Spaces

picture of cluttered hallway at Benson Hall

Please help keep corridors clear

Mechanical spaces, attics, spaces below raised floors, and spaces required for building service and access may not be used for storage of any kind unless constructed for that purpose.


These procedures reflect requirements of all applicable health and safety codes and standards including but not limited to, fire safety, public health, biological safety and radiological safety requirements. The compliance procedures are based upon the following health, safety and operational objectives:

  1. Corridors used for egress must remain free of hazardous materials, equipment, storage, and other materials and debris to assure safety. Allowed use must not obstruct access or visibility of safety equipment, lighting, exit and other signs.
  2. Hazardous materials and agents must be kept, stored and used within laboratories.
  3. Food and drink must remain out of laboratories.
  4. Building systems must be accessible for service and maintenance personnel.
  5. Researchers need a break area outside of their laboratory to eat and drink that is convenient: some buildings have no break areas.
  6. Corridors are not assigned to departments and administrative units; use must not adversely affect safety or put the university at risk of regulatory action.
  7. Corridors do not have adequate ventilation to control the heat load generated by equipment and are not designed to provide secondary containment for chemical spills or to control fugitive emissions and odors.
  8. In the event of an emergency (fire, hazardous materials, etc.), the fire department requires space to stage and operate in corridors and near stair enclosures.



Corridor Public and private circulation paths, elevator lobbies, and similar spaces that are typically 44 inches to 12 feet wide which serve as a required means of egress.
Lab Processing Equipment centrifuge, incubator, ovens, sterilizer, autoclave, pressure vessel, mixers, shakers, stirrers, hoods, bio-safety cabinets, scintillation, scopes, scales, electronics, lasers, and similar equipment
Hazardous Materials All chemical, radiological, biological materials and waste
PCR Kits Preliminary Chain Reaction Kits; Extraction enzymes, primer sets, and similar (very small quantities).
SFD Seattle Fire Department
Limited Access Corridor A corridor that is separated from other space with normally closed cross-corridor doors and not frequented by the public.


Prohibited Items

The following are considered serious and require immediate action by the responsible department:

  1. Any items located within a stairway or stair enclosure
  2. Any items that restrict the width of any portion of a corridor to less than 44 inches
  3. Any items that obstruct emergency equipment (fire alarm pull stations, sprinklers, fire extinguishers, eye wash, emergency shower, emergency shut off valves, etc.)
  4. Storage or use of hazardous materials (chemicals, biological, and radioactive)
    Exception: Non-cryogen freezer/refrigerator or ambient storage of biological agents and PCR kits, if labeled and locked. Biological agents must be in leak proof containers

The following items and processes are not acceptable and must be removed within 30 days after notification:

  1. Any item which obstructs electrical panels, access hatches or valves
  2. Laboratory processing and similar equipment
    • Centrifuges with sealed rotors for BSL-1 and non-infectious materials
    • Refrigerators and freezers, per item #4 above
    • Other lab equipment in limited access corridors when the location and use does not jeopardize emergency egress. Case by case approval for biological safety and fire prevention is required
  3. Hazardous and biological (infectious) waste
  4. Storage or use of compressed gas cylinders and dewars
  5. Mechanical equipment with exposed/unguarded belts pulleys and gears
  6. Any item that produces steam, odors, aerosols
  7. Unsecured or poorly secured items which could fall over and cause an injury or obstruction
  8. Workstations (typical desk and chair/computer/loose and combustible materials)
  9. Overstuffed sofa, futons and similar highly combustible furniture
  10. Combustible materials outside enclosed cabinets. This includes shelving, journals, papers, books, recycle, and boxes
  11. Recycle and waste containers except those approved for public areas
  12. Equipment and property to be picked up by Surplus (temporary storage)
  13. Temporary storage associated with construction (unless specifically planned, designated and authorized)


Allowed Items (examples)

  1. Seismically secured refrigerators, freezers for non hazardous storage and food; units for lab related storage must be kept locked. Units must be labeled with name and contact information
  2. Seismically secured non-combustible or low combustible filing cabinets and storage cabinets with latching doors (no hazardous materials storage)
  3. Low combustible chairs and table for breaks if a break room not available on the floor
  4. Low combustible chairs and table for waiting areas, within reason, given space available
  5. White boards, bulletin board, art, signs, display cases, and similar wall hung items that are low or noncombustible and occupy a reasonably small percentage of the wall
  6. Food, drink, cash and similar vending machines that are secure from tipping
  7. Recycle intended for public areas (no “bag-it” or 90 gallon plastic containers)

Conditions for Allowed Items

  1. All items must be located along one side of the corridor and located so that it does not block access to panels, emergency equipment or obstruct signage.
  2. Large equipment may not be placed on tables or stacked on top of other equipment.
  3. Extension cords are not allowed.
  4. Large heavy objects must be adequately secured.
  5. Table, chairs and other furnishings must be of low combustibility.
  6. Equipment may not reduce required corridor width, typically 44 inches but greater in some cases (confer with EH&S).
  7. Maintain clearances as follows:
    • Emergency Showers: 24 inches from non-electrical and 60 inches from electrical equipment
    • Doors: 18 inches from pull side and 12 inches on the push side from the door latch for accessibility (see ANSI A117.1)
    • Fire extinguishers: 18 inches left and right and nothing below
    • Ceiling: no closer than 18 inches for fire protection
    • Doors from occupied rooms must meet building code swing clearance requirements (At least 37 inches clear in corridor when door fully open). (confer with EH&S)
    • Refrigerator/freezer and cabinets door swing need not be considered if normally closed and provided with a latch or lock
    • Electrical/Access panels/fountains: Six (6) inches from edge and 3 feet minimum total with for the access panel; nothing allowed above or below



  1. Non-conforming items will be noted by EH&S and SFD during periodic building surveys and written correction notices provided to the responsible party. If items are not removed in a timely manner EH&S may arrange for materials to be removed at the department’s expense.
  2. Some department may adopt additional requirements and approval processes for use of corridors and other unassigned space.

Code References

Code Citation Notes
Seattle Fire Code Combustible Waste Material 304.3.2 Containers with a capacity exceeding 5.33 cubic feet (40 gallons) shall be provided with lids. Containers and lids shall be constructed of noncombustible materials or approved combustible materials.
Exception: City Solid Waste collection contract containers.
Seattle Fire Code Means of Egress Continuity: 1003.6 …Obstructions shall not be placed in the required width of egress…


SFD Notice of Violation (Interpretational Reference) Remove the items that would obstruct the exit or make exiting hazardous as follows: (06 SFC 1003.6) Interpreted by SFD to prohibit hazardous materials
Seattle Fire Code Means of Egress 315.2.2 Combustible materials shall not be stored in exits or exit enclosures.


Seattle Fire Code Chapter 34. Flammable/Combustible Liquids: Storage of any liquid…shall not be stored near or be allowed to obstruct physically the route of egress.


NIH/CDC Bio-safety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories  Section IV, BSL 1 : Eating, drinking, smoking, handling contact lenses, applying cosmetics and storing food for human consumption must not be permitted in laboratory areas. Food must be stored and handled outside the laboratory in cabinets or refrigerators designated for this purpose.



Appendix G-II-A-1-a. Access to the laboratory is limited or restricted at the discretion of the Principal Investigator when experiments are in progress.

Appendix G-II-A-1-b. Work surfaces are decontaminated once a day and after any spill of viable material.

Raw recombinant DNA is considered a bsl1 agent and may not be used or processed in corridors in accordance with exceptions for bsl-1as outlined herein.

WAC 296-828

Eating, drinking, smoking, gum chewing… labs with hazardous materials…should be prohibited.

Adopts Prudent practices. Also, prohibited in the UW Lab Safety manual.

ICC/ANSI A117.1 2003

Accessibility and Useable Buildings and Facilities Chapter 4. Accessible Routes

Wheelchair access


Contact EH&S Building and Fire Safety at (206) 616-5530.



UW Administrative Policy Statement 16.1 “Fire Safety”
UW Administrative Policy Statement 12.3 “Review of Research Project Involving Biological Hazards and Recombinant DNA” (leaves EH&S Web site)