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Hand-Sanitizer Dispensers

Learn about the specific requirements hand-sanitizer dispensers placed inside or outside a facility.

hand-sanitizer.pngThe UC San Diego Fire and Life Safety team can assist with ensuring hand-sanitizer dispensers are installed in a code-compliant manner. Placement of free-standing dispensers both inside and outside of a facility (e.g., room or corridor) must be approved prior to installation. 


Hand sanitizers contain high concentrations of alcohol that can flame or flash if exposed to an ignition source, switches, or any surface containing static electricity.

When a disinfectant or hand sanitizer ignites it produces an almost invisible, blue flame that can quickly produce harmful burns. Use the following tips to avoid injury:
  • Stay away from any potential ignition source while sanitizer is still wet and follow the directions and warning labels on the sanitizer container.
  • Avoid touching any surface until the hand-sanitizer has completely dried.
  • Consider using warm water and soap to wash your hands, rather than using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do not use aerosol liquid dispensers.

Fire Code Requirements

The California Fire Code has specific requirements when it comes to placing hand-sanitizer dispensers inside or outside a facility. This pertains to the use of hand-sanitizer dispensers containing alcohol-based hand rubs (classified as Class I or II liquids). In addition, there are special provisions for wall-mounted dispensers containing alcohol-based hand rubs that are installed in corridors or rooms and areas open to the corridor.

Installation of wall-mounted hand-sanitizer dispensers:

  • The maximum capacity of each dispenser must be 68 ounces (2 L).
  • The minimum separation between dispensers must be 48 inches (1219 mm).
  • The dispensers must not be installed closer than 1 inch (25 mm) to an electrical receptacle, switch, appliance, device or other ignition sources.
  • Dispensers must be mounted so that the bottom of the dispenser is not less than 42 inches (1067 mm) and not more than 48 inches (1219 mm) above the finished floor.
  • Dispensers must not release their contents except when the dispenser is manually activated. Facilities must be permitted to install and use automatically activated "touch-free" alcohol-based hand-rub dispensing devices with the following requirements:
  • Staff must test the dispensers each time a new refill is installed
  • Dispensers must operate in a manner that ensures accidental or malicious activations are minimized.
  • Any activations of the dispenser must only occur when an object is placed within 4 inches (98 mm) of the sensing device.
  • An object placed within the activation zone and left in place will cause only one activation.
  • Dispensers installed in occupancies with carpeted floors must only be allowed in areas equipped throughout with an approved automatic sprinkler system.

Installation of hand-sanitizer dispensers in corridors:

  • Level 2 and 3 aerosol containers must not be allowed in corridors.
  • The maximum capacity of each Class I or II liquid dispenser must be 41 ounces (1.21 L) and the maximum capacity of each Level 1 aerosol dispenser must be 18 ounces (0.51 kg).
  • The maximum quantity allowed in a corridor within a control area must be 10 gallons (37.85 L) of Class I or II liquids or 1135 ounces (32.2 kg) of Level 1 aerosols, or a combination of Class I or II liquids and Level 1 aerosols not to exceed, in total, the equivalent of 10 gallons (37.85 L) or 1,135 ounces (32.2 kg) such that the sum of the ratios of the liquid and aerosol quantities divided by the allowable quantity of liquids and aerosols, respectively, must not exceed one.
  • The minimum corridor width must be 72 inches (1829 mm).
  • Projections into a corridor must not project horizontally more than 4 inches (102 mm) into the circulation path.
Contact the EH&S Fire Safety team.