Nightclub Code Compliance in Massachusetts

Given their unique hazards and challenges, “Nightclubs”, special requirements are included in the building code in the State of Massachusetts.

“Nightclubs” are specifically defined as “An assembly occupancy with a high occupant load density that is generally characterized by at least two of the following: low lighting levels; music generating above-normal sound levels; nighttime operating hours; tables and seating that create ill-defined aisles; a specific area designated for dancing; or service facilities for beverages with limited food service.”

As part of a state-specific amendment, Massachusetts regulates the following aspects of all nightclubs that have 50 or more people:

  • Sprinkler protection required throughout buildings containing a nightclub
  • Limitations on the use of foam plastics and interior finishes within nightclubs
  • Activation of the fire alarm system will automatically turn on all house and means of egress lighting, as well as stop all other sounds (e.g. music, etc.) and visual distractions (e.g. dance lighting, etc.) throughout the nightclub and means of egress therefrom
  • Main exit required from the nightclub, which is sized to be a minimum of 72” (or as required by 780 CMR Section 1029.2, whichever is greater) and consists of a pair of side-hinge swinging doors without a center mullion

The application of the nightclub classification can be interpretive and prove to be relatively far-reaching given the broad definition in 780 CMR, and the specific requirements can be hugely impactful to a project’s design.  Questions on the application of the above definition or requirements? Give us a call.


Application of any information provided, for any use, is at the reader’s risk and without liability to Code Red Consultants. Code Red Consultants does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in this blog as applicable codes and standards change over time. The application, enforcement and interpretation of codes and standards may vary between Authorities Having Jurisdiction and for this reason, registered design professionals should be consulted to determine the appropriate application of codes and standards to a specific scope of work.