Revised on
07/24/17 09:19am
SafetyNet #

Laboratory Maximum Occupant Load

A. Summary

Maximum occupancy load is amongst the most important concepts in preserving public safety. Some of the greatest fire tragedies occurred because large crowds of people occupied spaces that were not capable of ensuring a quick exit for everyone in the event of an emergency situation. As a result, there are very strict laws in the United States pertaining to occupancy load. UC Davis Fire Prevention Services takes occupancy load very seriously, and because UC Davis is a large research institution, Fire Prevention is often asked how many persons can occupy a given laboratory. The answer depends on the use of the laboratory, as outlined below.

B. Research Laboratory

The rule of thumb for research laboratories is 200 square feet per person. Take the total square footage of the lab and divide by 200, then round down. For example, a 500 square foot research laboratory will accommodate two researchers. While this does not prohibit small group discussions, the intent is to prohibit overcrowding of both equipment and personnel in these types of labs.

C. Teaching Laboratory

The occupant load for teaching laboratories varies depending on the activity. Based on equipment and furniture configuration, the following applies:

Engineering, such as the labs in Bainer Hall

67 square feet/person

Physical Sciences

47 square feet/person

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

45 square feet/person

Biological Sciences

42 square feet/person


23 square feet/person