Fire Safety and Prohibited Items

Residential housing is subject to mandated life safety codes by New York State and the NYS Office of Fire Preventing and Control (OFPC). The College and University are required to support these expectations to protect our students and community and thus have developed policies and procedures to comply with State expectations. For more information you can visit University of Rochester’s Environmental Health and Safety’s fire safety page.


Prohibited actions include tampering with the fire alarm system (i.e., covering smoke detector), hanging items from the alarm or sprinkler system, not leaving the building during an alarm, and egress (items blocking paths or exits in hallways or rooms - this can include shoes in the hall, not being able to open a bedroom door all the way, or a large table or couch in the middle of a room that would prevent someone from easily getting through).


There are a number of items that are not allowed in the residence halls due to fire safety guidelines. The New York State Fire Inspector/Marshal, along with UR's Environmental Health and Safety Office decide on these items for the most part. There are some items that are prohibited based on ResLife's guidelines for reasons other than Fire Safety.

3D Printers: Are prohibited in the residence halls.

Candles: Or anything with an open flame or that burns (such as incense) including wax melters/warmers (which are basically hot plates, see cooking appliances). Even unburnt candles cannot be possessed in the residence halls.

Cooking appliances: George Foreman grills or any cooking appliances with induction cook tops, toasters, grills, hot plates, crock pots, electric skillets, broiling microwaves, submersion coil water heaters are prohibited. No cooking (except microwaves) can occur in bedrooms. Apartment units with kitchens may allow additional appliances so please check with your area office. Microwaves, fridges, and electric kettles or coffee pots with no open hot element and an automatic shutoff are allowed in bedrooms and common areas.

Cords: Cannot hang from ceilings, be affixed to walls, run across corridors or doorways, or be under floor coverings (i.e. rugs).

Cut trees or plants: Such as cut holiday trees or wreaths—dried/dead plants increase the fire load of the hall significantly and are very flammable. These items are prohibited.

Curtains/drapes: Are prohibited.

Decorations: Must cover less than 50% of the wall and 50% of the door (front and back). No decorations can touch or hang from the ceiling or any fire equipment (sprinkler, alarm, detector, etc.) at any time.

Flags or Fabric on Walls: No large fabric can hang from the walls. You can hang flags or Jerseys in glass flames.

Flammable/Combustible Materials: Are not allowed in any residence halls:

  • All flammable materials (gas, lighter fluid, charcoal, propane, solvents, etc.)
  • All items powered by combustible fuels (i.e., motorcycles)
  • All fireworks, explosives, etc.
  • All corrosive (or poisonous) chemicals and hazardous materials
  • All crepe paper streamers or mylar decorations are prohibited

Halogen Bulbs/Lights: Are prohibited.

Hover boards: Are prohibited in the residence halls.

Lamps: Lamp restrictions can be complicated. In general lamps are not allowed if they can be turned to face the ceiling or have a clip on them. At no time can a lamp have an outlet. If you are unsure about a lamp, please contact your RA or area office. See also our lamp guide (pdf).

Mattress (personal): these items are only allowed with an approved accommodation.

Non-UL Approved Electronics/Appliances: All electronics and appliances must be UL approved. This does not include items that say "UL compliant". UL approved items have symbol that looks something like this. Most appliances we see in the halls are UL approved however many surge protectors are not.

Space Heater/Air Conditioner: These items are only allowed with an approved accommodation.

Any electrical outlet that is not a surge protector: No multi-plug adapters, power tap, extension cords, and lamps or other items with plugs in them are all not surge protectors.

While looking at a surge protector, it must have the following:

  • On/off switch
  • Able to be reset (usually a button or part of the on/off switch)
  • No movable parts (no bending or flexible elements)
  • Must be UL approved

Additionally surge protectors cannot be plugged into each other; this is called "daisy chaining".

Always double check items such as these, many are not UL approved and sometimes they are not even surge protected (no reset button).

Extension cords.Power tap.Multi plug.Surge protector.

Common Items with Restrictions

Some common items that may have restrictions:

  • Coffee Pots/Keurigs/Water Warmers: are allowed as long as they have an automatic shutoff
  • Heating Pads/Blankets: are allowed as long as they have an automatic shutoff
  • Humidifiers: are allowed if they are cold air humidifiers without a heating element
  • Personal Furniture: should be fire rated if upholstered and not violate egress (block exits or clear path through the room/unit); for upholstered items such as couches and chairs, students must provide EHS Fire Safety with the appropriate paperwork proving the item meets fire rating requirements that can be provide to the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control when they ask for it
  • Refrigerator and Microwave: students may bring small refrigerators (no more than 4.5 cu. ft.) and small microwaves (900W or less) however they each must be plugged directly into the wall and not into a surge protector due to their higher wattage
  • String Lights*: are allowed as long as:
    • Each strand is plugged directly into a surge protector or all and not into each other
    • They are LED and not heat creating bulbs
    • Do not block doors, be hung from the ceiling, or otherwise violate other policies

*Note some LED strip lights can cause damage to walls when removed.