Environment, Health and Safety Manual - Chapter 04.04: Fire Safety - Life Safety: Exitways


Environment, Health and Safety Manual - Chapter 04.04: Fire Safety - Life Safety: Exitways


The University Environment, Health and Safety Office is responsible for inspecting hallways and exits for compliance with the Fire and Life Safety Codes.


The University uses Occupational Safety and Health Regulations and North Carolina Fire Prevention Codes and recommendations of the NFPA Life Safety Code as minimum standards to be attained. The State Department of Insurance may also impose requirements as a condition for providing insurance on campus buildings and equipment.

Obstructions to Means of Egress

No person shall at any time place an encumbrance of any kind before or upon any fire escape, balcony, ladder, or other exit intended as a means of escape from a fire.

No aisle, exit access, or stairway in any place of occupancy shall be obstructed with seats, tables, merchandise, equipment or other obstructions so as to reduce its required width as an exitway.

In every building, means of egress shall be so maintained as to provide free and unobstructed egress from all parts of the building at all times, and so as to be available for full instant use in case of fire or other emergency.

All exit doors shall be unlocked at all times.


No person shall place, store or keep any materials of any kind in the hallway. Use of laboratory or office equipment in the hallway is not permitted. Normally, only water fountains, fire protection equipment, and safety equipment will be installed in hallways.

Permanently attached lockers, bulletin boards, display cabinets, etc. may be permitted in some locations, subject to approval of the Environment, Health and Safety Office: Fire Safety Section. Transparent covers on bulletin boards and display cabinets must be safety glass or other non splintering material.

Stairwells and Landings

Storage of materials on stairs, landings, or under stairs is strictly forbidden. Such space shall be left entirely open and free from encumbrance. Items found in these locations will be removed.


Fire doors separating stairwells from hallways and smoke partition doors are equipped with self closing mechanisms or automatic release hold open devices and must be maintained in working order, i.e., not blocked, wedged or tied open.

Lighting of Exitways

Stairways, hallways, and other exitways including the exterior open spaces to or through which exitways lead, shall be kept adequately lighted at all times when the building served thereby is occupied. Adequate lighting shall provide not less than 1.0 foot candle on walking surfaces.

Turnstiles and Similar Devices

Turnstiles and similar devices, used to restrict travel in one direction or to collect fares or admission charges, etc., shall not be installed without prior approval of the Environment, Health and Safety Office.

Railings, Steps, and Walks

The area immediately outside building exits shall be maintained free of obstructions at all times.


Bicycles are not permitted inside any University building, including stairwells, hallways, balconies, or on sidewalks immediately adjacent to exits. (See Transportation and Parking-The Ordinance Regulating Traffic and Parking on the Campus of UNC-CH, Section 3-19 – Bicycle Parking.)

Recycling Containers

Recycling containers should be located next to trashcans and arranged in a manner that will not interfere with normal egress. Location of containers in hallways, except in alcoves or other recesses, is discouraged and permitted only when other locations are not available. The UNC Fire Marshal may approve of locating recycling containers in hallways when other locations are not practicable. Conditions of approval include: location must be at least 35 feet from any required exit; containers must not impede traffic nor reduce corridor width to below that required by fire codes; and containers must be constructed of fire-resistant materials or treated with a fire-retardant paint. Under no circumstances are containers permitted to be located in stairways or stairwells.

Contact Information

Policy Contact

Environment, Health and Safety
1120 Estes Drive
Campus Box #1650
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1650
Phone: 919-962-5507

Back to Chapter 04.03 - Reporting Fires

Proceed to Chapter 04.05 - Egress and Life Safety Policy

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Article ID: 131937
Thu 4/8/21 9:20 PM
Mon 7/4/22 1:27 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Environment, Health and Safety
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Executive Director
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
09/01/2026 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
05/10/2022 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
01/28/2019 11:00 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
01/28/2019 11:00 PM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
06/01/2014 12:00 AM