Stadium Guidelines


05 min. reading time

This section covers the infrastructure that supports the safety and security requirements of a stadium. Starting with accommodation for emergency services, it then addresses firesafety recommendations and the need for safe emergency evacuation routes. It also looks in detail at the Venue Operations Centre and how this facility needs to be connected to the stadium’s critical monitoring, control and communications systems. Finally, it covers the need for medical facilities for spectators and outlines best practices for the design of designated areas for police and stadium security personnel.


The effects of a fire can be devastating to human life and the structure of the building, so it is imperative that effective equipment and procedures are in place to detect and tackle any outbreaks of fire. Failure to do so will usually result in the stadium not being granted the necessary safety certificates (or local equivalent) to operate.


The fire detection and warning system should not only detect fire but be able to identify the location of the outbreak and signal the need to initiate the evacuation of all or the part of the stadium. Automatic detection should be present in all high-risk and unoccupied spaces. Manual call points can be used in lower-risk and occupied areas.

In larger stadiums, it is important to avoid unnecessary evacuations. Manual call points should not raise an audible alarm to all areas. All detectors should be linked to a central panel, which should be located somewhere that is easily accessible and permanently staffed, such as the main reception area or a 24-hour security post. This will ensure that a fire incident can be detected and its location can be determined, either by the stadium staff or emergency services.

For larger stadiums, a duplicate control panel should be located elsewhere in the building as a back-up in case the main panel malfunctions or becomes inaccessible. The location of the duplicate panel would ideally be in the Venue Operations Centre (VOC – see Sub-Section 5.4.3), which should be as far away from the main panel as possible to reduce the chance of both areas being affected by a singular fire incident.

The alarm system should allow operation in two separate modes.

1. Non-matchday mode – when the alarm should operate normally and the signal to evacuate could be triggered automatically.
2. Matchday mode – when the sound of the alarm and start of the evacuation process is only triggered once the legitimacy and severity of the detected incident has been explored and verified.

A fire commander in the Venue Operations Centre (VOC)


All stadiums must provide suitable and sufficient firefighting equipment appropriate to the fire risks present. This should be designed to comply with local requirements and regulations.
For most stadiums, portable firefighting equipment such as fire blankets, fire extinguishers and hose reels will be sufficient. For larger venues, it may be necessary to provide a dedicated water supply for firefighting in the form of hydrants, rising mains, sprinklers, smoke control or firefighting shafts.

Firefighting equipment should be positioned so that it is readily accessible when required, but it should be protected from vandalism and unauthorised use. Only suitably trained operational staff should use the firefighting equipment. Fire hoses should be sufficient in number and length to cover the entirety of the stadium level on which they are located. Where hose reels are not provided, portable fire extinguishers should be provided in sufficient number and at suitable locations to ensure that the entire floor is covered. All catering facilities should be equipped with fire blankets and fire extinguishers.

The area around the stadium should provide easy access for emergency vehicles (preferably unimpeded and continuous access). In particular, easy access is required to fire mains/hydrants and the area where the main fire alarm control panel is located. The locations of firefighting facilities should be well known to the firefighting service in advance of a call-out. This will require coordination between the stadium management team and the relevant emergency services. Firefighting equipment should also be well documented/signposted on-site, and access should be maintained at all times. Firefighting equipment should be inspected and maintained at regular intervals. A detailed maintenance plan should be used to ensure that the systems, staff and equipment remain fully operational (see Section 4.4 for procedures and policies).

Fire extinguisher


All egress and evacuation routes from the stadium must be designed in such a way as to enable safe and unimpeded exit from the stadium without delay. The evacuation system should not rely on assistance from emergency services, and evacuation routes must have sufficient capacity to enable spectators, players and officials, and all operational staff to exit the stadium in good time.

Spectators should be able to leave the viewing area and arrive at an exit route within an acceptable amount of time (as defined by local codes), also referred to as the emergency egr ess time (see the SGSA ’s Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (6th Edition). A place of reasonable safety should provide separation from the effects of the emergency, for example, fire and smoke. This place of reasonable safety then allows sufficient time to reach a place of safety, such as a road, an external concourse or an open space adjacent to the stadium building.

Places of reasonable safety include but are not limited to the following:

Exit routes that provide a minimum of 30 minutes of protection from fire

• Stairways that are in the open or are protected from fire

The field of play (this should not be used as a primary exit route, but could be considered as an alternative exit route depending on the nature and location of the incident/emergency)

For larger venues, concourses will form part of the emergency exit route and, as such, should provide a place of reasonable safety. Food kiosks serving these concourses must be designed so that an outbreak of fire can be contained. The effects of the fire should not be prevented from becoming evident to the users of the concourse. If the pitch is considered as an exit route, it should only be used in extreme circumstances, such as occasions where other normal exit routes have become unavailable. The pitch will require its own exits leading to a place of safety (see Sub-Section 5.3.2).

It should take no longer than eight minutes (or as defined by local codes) for a spectator to travel from their seat, along the terracing, gangways and vomitories to a protected free-flowing route. This assumes that the terracing is of robust, noncombustible construction. Most modern stadiums are constructed of concrete and are fire-protected, meaning the risk of a fire breaking out on the terraces is low. Where there is an increased risk of fire on the terraces – usually because of the proximity of internal areas for food preparation or the use of combustible construction materials – then the time taken to reach the protected route should not exceed two and a half minutes. If this will be difficult to achieve, an alternative approach might be to form a fire compartment around the potential fire risk.

Emergency exit

The required width and number of routes within the exit system will depend on the number of occupants in the space and its fire risk. It is important to note that the journey through the exit system should be free-flowing, and the route should not narrow at any point. A person’s average walking speed on stairs is considerably slower than on a horizontal surface, and so it is important to consider the potential for the slowing of movement at the head of stairs.

Exit routes through a stadium can be complex, and stadium designers should work closely with the local fire authority to ensure that all exit routes are fire-sterile and provide a place of reasonable safety. The egress and evacuation routes should be of suitable capacity for the number of people that are expected to be using them. Therefore, it is likely that they will need to be widened as they approach the exterior wall of the building, as the flow of spectators from different areas of the stadium merges. The stadium design team will likely include a specialist fire safety consultant, who will be responsible for developing the fire safety strategy for the stadium.


Disabled people and people with limited mobility will have different needs and will not move as quickly or freely as other spectators. The emergency exit of disabled supporters should not impede the flow of other spectators, nor should it be impeded by them.

Spectators with limited mobility may need to wait for assistance to help them move through stairways. Passenger lifts will not be available for evacuation unless they are specifically designed to provide emergency egress. Where lifts are used for emergency evacuation, there will likely be a need for users to wait whilst the lifts are loaded and returned. Therefore, a place of reasonable safety will need to be provided for spectators who are waiting to move through the vertical exit system.

Where possible, a separate exit system for spectators requiring assistance should be considered to allow all spectators to be evacuated simultaneously.


All stadiums should be equipped with a Venue Operations Centre (VOC), from where safety and security operations at the stadium can be monitored and controlled, and resources can be directed in both normal operations and during emergencies.

For larger stadiums, the VOC is a dedicated room, often referred to as the “stadium control room” or similar. For smaller stadiums where the availability of space is a consideration, the VOC could be joined with other facilities and the space could serve a different function on non-matchdays.

The main functions of the VOC and its personnel include:

• allowing the stadium safety and security management team to monitor
the safety and security of people attending the stadium and in its
immediate vicinity;

• coordinating responses to specific incidents;

• providing, if required, a monitoring facility for the emergency services;

• monitoring public order; and

• assisting other stadium management functions in staging the match.

A typical Venue Operations Centre

The VOC should be in a secure area of the stadium and have an overall view of the stadium bowl. The size, configuration and furnishings of the VOC should be designed to accommodate all equipment and personnel necessary to manage the safety and security of the stadium efficiently. When designing a VOC, the stadium authority should consult with the relevant agencies who will be using the VOC or providing a response in case of emergency, such as the police or fire service.

The VOC must remain operational in the event of an emergency. All equipment in the VOC must have a secondary power supply. In addition, any equipment that will require a reboot sequence or not tolerate a short outage must be on an uninterruptable power supply.
The VOC will require connection and access to the following stadium systems:

Public address (PA) system: the public address announcer, who may be part of the entertainment or infotainment team, should have communications connections to the VOC, but should not operate from the VOC. Instead, they should be located in a separate room within or next to the VOC to facilitate good communication between the two areas. The PA system is the main form of direct communication with spectators. It can also be used as a form of communication between stadium management and stadium staff during an incident or where mass notification is required. The electronic video screen may also be used as part of the notification process (see below).

The VOC should have a PA override facility to give designated individuals/operators and security staff priority use of the PA system in an emergency. The system should be intelligible so that broadcast messages can be heard under reasonable conditions (including emergencies) by all persons of normal hearing, including those people who are waiting to gain entry, and in any part of the stadium to which the public has access. Ideally, the PA system should be designed to allow broadcasts to be made to specified individual areas both inside and outside the stadium, including the pitch.

Fire alarm control panel: if the stadium has a secondary fire control panel, it is recommended that this be located in the VOC (refer to Sub-Section 5.4.1).

Electronic video screen control system (where installed): as with the public address announcer, the main operator of the video screen(s) should not be located in the VOC but in a separate room nearby to allow communication between the two areas. Safety messages should be pre-scripted and passed to the video screen operators for display (refer to Sub-Section 5.7.4).

Closed-circuit television (CCTV): adequate CCTV systems with sufficient monitor screens and camera controls should be located in the VOC to undertake surveillance monitoring of the stadium and its immediate vicinity.

Examples of CCTV cameras

The function of the CCTV system is to allow personnel in the VOC to identify incidents or potential problems, to assist with the situational assessment, to inform courses of action and to make recordings that can be used for investigations following an incident or for the purposes of evidence. The most advanced CCTV systems can monitor large, defined areas of the stadium bowl and facilitate retrospective zoom-ins which can be valuable when investigating incidents and identifying those involved.

The system should contain digital video recorders (DVRs) or similar technology of sufficient capacity to record and store footage for future reference.
The cameras should cover the following areas:
• All entry and exit points
• Approaches to the stadium grounds
• Spectator accommodation inside the stadium
• Stairways and passageways
• Concession/refreshment areas
• Broadcast/TV compound
• Drop-off and pick-up points for players and officials
• Corridors leading to players’ and officials’ dressing rooms
• Players’ and officials’ entrance onto the field of play
• Other key facilities such as on-site power generators

More information on the use of CCTV in stadiums can be found in the SGSA ’s Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (6th Edition).

Communications: there should be a dedicated communications system for all aspects of stadium safety and security. Standard commercial mobile phone networks often become overloaded during an incident and therefore cannot be relied upon as a means of communication for safety and security. As such, the following systems should be in place in the VOC:
• External fixed landline, direct dial (i.e. not through a switchboard)
• Intercom or internal fixed landlines between key locations around the stadium and the VOC
• Radio network for all safety and security functions, including earpieces for staff, to counteract the noise levels during a match


The building management system is the central control system linked to the stadium’s engineering systems. It is typically housed in the VOC. These systems are linked to other systems and functions such as the access control systems. It is usually best if a single manufacturer’s system is used, and that integration with all systems is ensured.

Spectator entry counting system: stadium entry points must have a system for counting spectators, and this information should be relayed to the VOC (see Sub-Section 5.1.3).


The VOC is a place of work and will often demand long periods of occupation. The facility should be comfortable for its occupants with basic welfare facilities. The size and layout will depend on local conditions and the number of individuals who occupy the room. The layout of benches, monitors and seating arrangements should consider the requirements of the various operators and agencies present. Screens and monitors should be positioned to avoid glare from the pitch-view window. There should be sufficient wall space for information boards and control panels.

A separate meeting room should be available close by, ideally adjacent to the VOC, where key personnel can meet in an emergency or other scenario as required.


First-aid and medical facilities must be provided in all stadiums. These should include a dedicated room or rooms to provide medical care to spectators and staff.

The medical provision for players and officials is considered in Sub-Section 6.1.1, and doping control facilities in Sub-Section 6.1.4.


Dedicated rooms for the provision of first aid should be well signposted throughout the stadium, using the locally recognised medical symbol, and be readily accessible. Typically, these facilities should be located centrally on the main public concourse. For larger stadiums, firstaid rooms should be provided on each public concourse. As well as being accessible to the public, it is important to locate first-aid rooms where they can be easily accessed by emergency services. Access routes from the stadium entrance to the first-aid room(s) should be suitable for wheeling stretchers or wheelchairs. The entrances used for medical emergencies will ideally be located close to the designated parking for ambulances.

First-aid training


First-aid/medical rooms should be designed with walls and flooring that can be easily cleaned. The floor should have a non-slip finish. The room should be heated or cooled depending on the local climate, well ventilated and brightly lit. It should have telephone equipment for internal and external communications and be equipped with medical equipment in consultation with the local health authority and ambulance service. Running hot and cold water will be required, as will drinking water, and there should be a hand basin. The room should have an easy-to-clean worktop and a lockable cabinet for medicines. There should be storage space for medical equipment such as stretchers, blankets, pillows and first-aid materials. The room needs to be large enough to accommodate an examination couch and space for sitting casualties, plus space for walking around. There should be a dedicated wheelchair-accessible WC.


Ambulance parking with easy access to the stadium


Dedicated on-site parking bays should be provided for ambulances. The exact number of spaces required will be determined by local requirements, the capacity of the stadium, and the availability and level of medical facilities on the stadium site. At least one ambulance is typically required on-site. Additional response vehicles may be required depending on the anticipated attendance and the capacity of the local ambulance authorities to provide additional vehicles on demand. Additional vehicles may also be required to act as an emergency services control unit if the relevant authorities are not represented in the VOC.


There should be an area, ideally within the stadium, identified for dealing with multiple casualties. The field of play should not be relied upon for this. The identified area could serve a different function on non-matchdays. As a minimum, an area outside of the stadium structure needs to be allocated, with consideration given to access and egress routes. Communication should be established and maintained between the mass casualty staging area and the VOC.


The presence of the local police and security services will depend on the risk profile and size of the stadium as well as the local law-andorder environment. In some cases, these services will require their own administration and briefing areas. In addition, a dedicated custody area might be required. Where these are provided, they should include a dedicated custody desk, sanitary facilities, CCTV monitoring, and access to medical facilities and an adjacent information and waiting area.

The construction of the custody area, the fronts of the cells, the furniture and sanitary ware should be robust and designed in accordance with local requirements and standards. The custody area should ideally be located with easy access to both the home and visiting supporters’ areas, with easy access to the custody van parking area.