Siting of electrical equipment in corridors

Corridors and stair enclosures form a critical part of building escape routes and should be kept free of any risk that may compromise the safety of building users. Such risks can arise from use of electrical appliances such as printers and photocopiers, vending machines, etc., and sensible judgement must be exercised in the location and management of such equipment.

The following guidance is intended to assist Heads of Management Units in relation to the siting of electrical equipment within University premises.


Key Definitions

Reference is made below to protected and unprotected escape routes.  The following definitions are intended to help staff identify the status of different areas. However, they are NOT definitive. Assessment of routes is complex and dependant on many factors.  Guidance should be sought from SEPS if in doubt.

 Protected routes are escape routes that are physically separated from other parts of the building by fire resisting construction to minimise the risk of the escape route becoming unusable due to fire and smoke spread within the building.  Fire doors with self-closers and fire door signs will normally be fitted to doors opening onto protected routes.  Most stairway enclosures will be protected routes. Stairways within single-stair buildings will virtually always be protected routes.

In some situations corridors can also be protected routes. Where this is the case, doors along the corridor will normally be fitted with fire doors but may just have normal doors with self closers and signs.  Some dead-end corridors may be protected routes.

Corridors and circulation areas where travel is available in more than one direction to an escape stair, or exit, will usually be unprotected routes.  In this case there will usually be only normal room doors, without self-closing devices, fitted to rooms opening onto the corridor.


1. Rooms/Compartments

Wherever possible electrical equipment should be located within a room and sited at a location that will not hamper the safe escape from the area. Where such rooms open directly onto a stairway or protected corridor a fire door will normally be required to ensure that smoke or fire within the room does not affect the escape route.


2.  “Unprotected” corridors and circulation areas

Subject to risk assessment, siting of electrical equipment within such areas may be possible.  However, there are limitations. Escape routes must not be used as if they were a room. Additionally the following conditions must be met:

  •          The available exit width should not be reduced below 1000mm.
  •          A smoke detector forming part of the building warning system must be located within a reasonable distance (e.g. 3m)
  •          No supplementary storage of combustible materials may be placed within the area, such as; recycle bins, paper or cardboard.


3. Protected Routes - fire escape stairways and protected corridors

Scottish Government guidance on application of fire safety legislation prohibits the siting of electrical equipment, such as photocopies, within protected escape routes.  In view of this SEPS cannot recommend the siting of printers or copiers in such locations.  If this is considered the ONLY possible option, SEPS may be consulted but are not in a position to vary the official enforcing authority advice.