Due to COVID-19, the information in this Guide is superseded by new Institute policies and procedures.
For the most up to date information, visit: https://institute-events.mit.edu/covid-19_eventplanning

Running the Event

Safety Considerations

There are numerous safety issues connected with holding events in Institute facilities. Listed below are some guidelines organizers should follow to enhance safety before, during, and after your event. If your event is being managed by CAC, the CAC managers are good resources for groups planning activities that are out of the ordinary. The MIT EHS Office is responsible for all matters of safety on campus; if CAC is managing your event, the CAC Managers will discuss major concerns with them or the department's EHS Coordinator prior to the event. If your event is not being managed by CAC, contact the MIT EHS Office directly.

See studentlife.mit.edu/sole and ehs.mit.edu/campus-workplace-program/event-exhibit-safety for more safety information.

Event Safety Plans

Events involving environment, health, and/or safety hazards will require a written safety plan which must be reviewed by the EHS Office, Insurance Office, Police, and other departments as necessary. The fire department or other regulators may also have to review this plan. The process may require more time to review and obtain approval, so plan ahead. The EHS Office will work with the event planners to identify and address safety concerns prior to running the event, but it is the event host's responsibility to supervise the event and ensure that the plan is executed. If the event planner significantly changes the activities and this introduces safety issues, then the safety plan will need to be resubmitted for review.

Exit Doors

Exit signs and doors must be clearly visible, cannot be obscured by decorations, and exit signs cannot be turned off. Maintain access to all exit doors, stairs and corridors. Additional temporary exit signs may be required for some events to ensure clear visibility of egress routes and exit doors.

Room Capacity

There is a listing of room capacities in the "CAC Facilities" and "Other Facilities" sections of this Guidebook. Refer to this guide when planning an event. Understand that the maximum capacities of facilities may have to be reduced depending on how much furniture is used and what activities will occur. Exceeding the maximum capacity of a facility is prohibited by law. It is the responsibility of the organization to take appropriate measures to ensure room capacities are not exceeded. Wristbands can be provided to monitor attendance at events (see the "Wristband" section of this Guidebook for more information). If numbers exceed the room's capacity, Police at MIT and, if CAC is managing your event, the CAC reserve the right to restrict access to the event or to close down the event.

Fog/Smoke Machines and Pyrotechnics

In 2004 the Massachusetts Fire Prevention Regulation 527 CMR 1.06 prohibits “the use of any machine, device or chemical to create fog, foam or a haze-like visual effect, which could become an obstacle to ingress or egress from any place of assembly.” Even if MIT has a safety plan and will pay for a fire fighter detail, the Cambridge Fire Department will not grant approval.

The use of pyrotechnics is prohibited at all times on the MIT campus.

Decorations and Sets

Contact CAC or the appropriate scheduling office before purchasing any items which will be used for decorating a room. The use of paints should also be approved by a CAC or the appropriate scheduling office. Spray paints are of particular concern due to ventilation requirements and the fire hazard. Due to special safety and fire code requirements, set designs for all theatrical events must be reviewed and approved prior to construction.

Lighting, Lasers, and Strobes

Rooms must have adequate lighting for the safety of the participants. Appropriate lighting levels for parties and dances are controlled by the CAC Manager or building manager and/or Police at MIT officers at the event. Lighting equipment used at events must also be approved by CAC or appropriate scheduling office. Specifications for lighting should be given to CAC or appropriate scheduling office well in advance of the event.

Please note, your safety plan to use lasers must be reviewed by the Radiation Protection Program (617) 452-3477, environment@mit.edu. This applies to lasers used both inside and outside. A licensed operator will control the laser.

Candles and Open Flames

The use of candles as decoration or for lighting is prohibited by the Mass Fire Prevention regulations. Candles are only allowed during religious ceremonies in designated areas such as the marble altar in the chapel. Any use of candles or open flames requires approval by the Cambridge Fire Department, and may require a Fire Fighter Detail paid for by the event planner.

If you want to pursue the use of candles in approved areas, contact the EHS Office and your EHS Coordinator with your proposed safety precautions such as the use of flame-retardant materials near/under the candles, not leaving lit candles unattended, and putting matches and burnt candles in water before disposal. This will be reviewed and sent to the Cambridge Fire Department.

Propane for Cooking

The use of propane at approved events for cooking is allowed outside of buildings. The event planner must hire a Department of Facilities licensed plumber to leak test the equipment set up. A caterer must operate the propane cooking equipment, not MIT personnel. A fire fighter detail may be required. If you want to pursue the use of propane, contact the EHS Office.

Fire Fighter Detail at an Event

Please contact the EHS Office or your EHS Coordinator if you want to pursue an event plan that may require a Fire Fighter Detail. The Safety Program will work with you before contacting the Fire Department with the details of the safely plan for your event. The event planner will be responsible for scheduling and paying for the Fire Fighter Detail.

Electrical Extension and Power Cords

Use of extension cords should be reviewed and approved by the CAC Manager or appropriate individual prior to their use.


Tents must be booked through CAC and the grounds area must be checked for sprinklers.