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Index > Operations Policies > Use of Portable Space Heaters Policy

Use of Portable Space Heaters Policy


Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has issued this policy to ensure compliance with local and state fire codes and regulations and to ensure all areas of our campus are safe from fires. A review of fire code regulations, space heater manufacturers operating instructions as well as programs at other institutions and fire prevention organizations was completed and is the basis for this policy. Additionally, some aspects of this policy may not be based solely upon code, but rather on the practical application of what is and is not acceptable on campus.



The following are the only types of space heaters pre-approved for use on campus:

  • Oil-filled radiator style heaters that are themostatically controlled and UL Certified; no other type will be approved.
  • Stanley electric element 1,500-watt style space heaters in studios with live models (Painting, Illustration, etc.)– no other type is approved.

All other types of space heaters, unless installed by Facilities, are banned from campus and cannot be used. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • All heaters fueled by kerosene, gasoline, propane, oil and any other fuel.
  • Electric heaters with electric elements that glow bright orange or red. This heater distributes energy as high radiant heat and uses 1500 watts or more of electricity.

These types of space heaters found on campus will be removed by Facilities and the owner will be notified to pick up their space heater from Facilities at What-Cheer Garage and to remove it from campus.


General Guidelines

  • Do not use extension cords with electric heaters; plug it directly into the wall.
  • Use only portable heaters that are equipped with an automatic shut off device that shuts off the heater if it is tipped over.
  • If possible, use heaters that are equipped with automated high temperature switches that prevent them from overheating
  • Do not use a portable electric heater in a bathroom or around wet or grounded surfaces.
  • Never place a heater near a tub or sink where it could get splashed or fall into the water

Location of approved space heaters:

  • Locate heaters away from traffic and play areas, as well as areas occupied by children. Keep them clear of furniture, draperies, and other combustibles.
  • Alert children and adults about where heaters are located and remind them of the hazards of their high surface temperatures.
  • Supervise young children when they are near space heaters.

    When it is necessary to use a pre-approved space heater, always follow these precautions:
  • Never leave it on if you are not in the room
  • Keep it away from water – sinks, tubs, tanks, etc.
  • Maintain a clearance of at least 3 feet between the appliance and any combustible material.
  • Place a noncombustible material under the appliance, and only place it on the floor.

Revision history

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 1/24/2022

Next scheduled review: 2/1/2024


Issuing Office

Environmental Health and Safety / Fire and Life Safety Committee

Responsible Officer

Vice President, Campus Services

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

EHS Manager

Director of Facilities Operations

Director of Public Safety