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Fire and Rescue
Merchants Urged to Take Precautions Regarding Patrons and Merchandise During Holiday Season

On November 23, 2012, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the official kick-off of the Christmas Holiday shopping season.  Black Friday is a day when many individuals are out, before dawn, attempting to get the latest and greatest gifts at bargain prices.  As this date draws near, merchants are stocking their warehouses and stores with large quantities of merchandise for anticipated busy shopping period.  Fire Marshals of the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue ( would like to remind merchants to take the following necessary precautions in protecting their patrons and merchandise during this holiday season: 

Storing Merchandise

  • Maintain exit discharge

  • Keep all exits clear

  • Keep storage levels 18 inches from sprinkler heads

    • If no sprinkler system, keep merchandise 2 feet from ceiling and overhead support assembly

Hanging & Displaying Merchandise

According to the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, 703.3, the hanging and displaying of salable goods and other decorative materials from acoustical ceiling systems that are part of a fire-resistance-rated floor/ceiling or roof/ceiling assembly shall be prohibited.

Customer Safety

  • Limit merchandise on sales floor to ensure clear exits and exit discharge

  • Monitor the crowds to maintain the proper occupancy load so that the possibility of overcrowding is eliminated

  • Do Not Block extinguishers or access to sprinkler system control valves

  • Limit decorations to ensure sprinkler system coverage is not reduced

  • All decorations must be treated with a fire retardant

  • Provide awareness regarding No Parking in fire lanes

  • Provide awareness regarding Do Not Block fire department connections and hydrants

To ensure that the community threat is eliminated, a County Fire Marshal will conduct compliance spot checks and will issue violation notices during the holidays in an attempt to ensure fire safety is paramount.


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