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Opening a Gym? Gym Fire Regulations to Follow

Gyms feature different layouts from commercial buildings or residential complexes, meaning that fire safety plans will differ as well. Gyms or fitness centers usually have large spaces with large numbers of people that frequent those spaces. Familiarize yourself with gym fire regulations. This includes specific legislation for fire safety requirements in the area where your gym or fitness center is. 

Whether you are offering group training or a personal training sessions, ensure you know and understand the legal requirements. Understand requirements for fire exits, signs, sprinklers, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and more in the state and city where you have your business is crucial.  

Contrasting Fire Hazards

Consider anything that can trigger a fire as a potential fire hazard. This will include things like electrical equipment, air conditioning, and heating. Also, verify the maximum number of people visiting and using the premises at any time. Specifically, pay attention to their ages, any disabilities, and any spots where an employee may be working alone and isolated.

Evaluate risks associated with more than one floor, an elevator, a staircase, and all building exits. Does the building already possess fire alarms, fire exits, fire extinguishers, and emergency lighting? Are these instruments outdated or do they comply with current regulations? Do you have sufficient stairwell and wireless elevator cameras that detect smoke and any suspicious activity in the right areas? 

Begin with a fire risk assessment by a professional that will analyze in detail the risks connected with your gym’s layout. They will analyze electrical equipment, mat and equipment materials, and the risk of a fire spreading.

The National Fire Protection Association has developed more than 300 fire safety codes and standards. These influence practically every design, building, installation, service, and process across all industries. Below are several general requirements that every gym owner needs to ask about from municipal and state authorities.

Space Awareness

Gym owners need to be very aware of how they organize equipment on the gym floor. Arrange equipment so that there are several possible escape routes. Create clear pathways so that gym members can easily identify and navigate exit routes in the event of an emergency.

gym space fire regulations

Fire Exits

Authorities in the state where your gym is located have legislated the number of fire exits required. Authorities determine this number by the dimensions of your property, the maximum number of people allowed to be inside at one time, the equipment you have inside, and its use. They will determine the door’s required measurements and characteristics including composition.  These are all part of gym fire regulations.

Check out local regulations for the number of fire doors your gym should have, their measurements, and the required materials. Doors should be easily identifiable and very visible. Exits always must be in working order and properly certified to meet municipal, state, and federal rules as well as to protect your gym members.

Generally speaking, fire doors should face the direction of an escape route. You will not be able to use sliding or revolving doors as fire exits.

Locks or and fire door operation are also important factors. This kind of door must be easily and rapidly opened. Doors that have locks are not efficacious and generally not permitted.

Also, consider access control methods. If you have turnstiles or other methods of physical access control, make sure that in an emergency, people will be able to leave the premises quickly despite your access control setup.  

Fire Safety Signs

gym fire regulations sign

Fire safety signs are an important part of any building where people congregate. Gyms are busy places, and some activities tend to concentrate larger numbers of people creating a bit of congestion. 

Place fire safety signs throughout your gym. Post them particularly in heavily trafficked areas where popular gym equipment is located, near bathrooms and showers, in locker rooms, and in lounging areas or near water fountains and vending machines. 

Illuminate signs as well as pathways and exits with emergency lighting, particularly if a fire causes you to lose your primary electrical power. They should turn on automatically to facilitate evacuation. 

Signs should not be limited to “Fire Exit” but should include indications to keep pathways and exit areas clear.  Gym members or visitors should not congregate in these areas and must not leave equipment, gym bags, or other personal property along escape routes or near exit doors.

Fire Alarms

Install smoke detectors and fire alarms throughout your fitness center to launch an early warning that a fire has started. Maintain and test alarms regularly to ensure that they are in working order.

Fire Extinguishers

Position extinguishers throughout the gym building and be easy to access should a fire begin. Maintain extinguishers at regular intervals and check that they function properly.

Staff Training

All employees should receive fire safety training so that they know what they must do if a fire begins.  They should know how to evacuate the gym, how to use fire extinguishers, and what to do if a member, visitor, or employee is trapped.

Sprinkler Systems

According to the NIOSH, sprinkler systems aid in containing the spread of fires and saving lives. They recommend requiring automatic systems in commercial structures and cite that 97% of home fires were better controlled from 2015 to 2019 thanks to a sprinkler system having been installed. Depending on how large your gym is, an automatic system may be required and is, in any case, an effective fire control tool.


Opening a gym can be risky. Follow gym fire regulations to help mitigate that part of the risk. Good risk management includes attention to fire safety regulations and installing the proper tools for prevention and control to keep everyone safe if a fire ignites.

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