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Health and Safety Services

Fire Safety - Use of Circulation Space

What is Circulation Space?

This is the common use areas around the College - corridors, staircases, entrances and lift lobbies.  Our largest circulation spaces are the entrances to Malet St, Gordon Sq and the Clore Building, the Clore basement foyer and the Malet St basement area. 

What fire problems could there be with using circulation space?

Circulation spaces are generally fire evacuation routes and as such must not be compromised by obstructions, sources of ignition or the presence of combustible material. The Fire Brigade has written to the College warning us not to use our circulation spaces in an incorrect manner.  If we fail to meet our obligations the College could be made to close certain areas until the Fire Brigade is satisfied and/or the College could be prosecuted.


You may not hold any event or site any material or furniture in any circulation space without the permission of the Health and Safety Advisor. Permission will only be granted where the fire risk has been assessed and control measures are in place to manage any increase in risk.  

Some situations will never be allowed e.g. tables being set up in staircases or protected corridors to use as registration desks or display tables and no mains powered electrical items in the protected lift lobbies.

What is allowed then?

Other situations can be allowed if certain conditions are met.  For example the Clore or Malet St. basements can be used for Receptions. Conditions are strict and must be adhered to or events may have to be curtailed.  These conditions include: calculation of numbers attending, particular location and alignment of furniture, the provision of fire marshals at all times.

Storage in circulation areas must have permission, be self closing, preferably be lockable, be of flame retardant construction and must not be an obstruction.  Good examples are the student pigeon holes in the 7th floor main lift lobby at Malet St.and the cupboards on the 3rd floor stair lobby in the Clore Building.

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Health & Safety Services, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX. Tel: 020 7631 6218, email: