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Open Flame Directive

Candles, torches, butane burners, and any other flame producing devices are considered “open flame devices.” Open flame devices carry with them the risk of unintentional fire and serious consequences when not used appropriately. Therefore, the use of any open flame device is prohibited in all University residential and non-residential buildings. Situations that do call for the use of open flame devices can be reviewed under special circumstances through a variance request submitted to Environmental Health and Safety.


The intent of this directive is to reduce potential fire hazard which will in turn reduce the risk of loss of property and/or life on the ISU campus and other university owned or leased property. This directive is not intended to restrict the use of open flame devices in controlled settings such as laboratories or food service where open flame is used in daily activities. Maintenance staff or construction crews in compliance with the Facilities Management Hot Work Policy are also exempt from this directive.

Permissable Conditions

The following conditions are permissible under the policy, and do not require prior approval:

  • Use of food steam or heating tray devices, by Event Management, Dining and Hospitality, as long as the warmers are placed on a non-combustible surface.
  • Open flames used in laboratory buildings for experiments and research, strictly under the Professors or Lab Instructors supervision.
  • Pyrotechnic special effect devices are permitted to be used on stages, as long as the appropriate safety precautions are taken and are satisfactory to the authority having jurisdiction and complying with NFPA 1126 and NFPA 160.


Environmental Health and Safety is considered the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and will be responsible for the administration of this directive. This directive follows National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines, Life Safety Code 101/13.7.2 2012 Edition.


Environmental Health and Safety shall review all requests for the use of open flame devices and either approve or deny the request in a timely manner. Any group, organization or individuals sponsoring events that they wish to include open flame devices shall contact the EHS a minimum of 1 week prior to the event and provide the Fire Safety Officer with the request and a safety pre-plan, both of which must be submitted in writing. Permissions will be considered on a case by case basis for special events, and only when the appropriate safety measures are implemented.


Due to the significant fire risk and sensitivity of fire/ smoke detection devices throughout campus buildings, candles, lanterns, oils lamps, and other lighting devices using an open flame or high heat are prohibited and unacceptable to use unless prior approval has been granted through Environmental Health and Safety. The use of open flames fueled by propane tanks is strictly prohibited from university buildings. Individuals wishing to apply for a variance to the directive must submit a request to Environmental Health and Safety and include:

  • the name of the individual responsible for the use of the open flame device,
  • the layout of the venue,
  • location where the open flame devices will be used,
  • approximate length of time for use of the open flame,
  • location(s) of fire extinguishers and other fire safety precautions.

The requestor shall also be aware of building fire alarm and/ or fire sprinkler systems, or lack thereof; all of which need to be included in the safety preplanning prior to the event.


Employees found using or allowing the unauthorized use of any open flame devices will be issued a verbal and/or written notification to remove the item immediately. The employee’s supervisor will be notified, and a notice of non-compliance will be issued to address the safety violation.

If residents and/or staff of a Residence Hall building are found using any open flame devices contrary to the restrictions imposed by University Housing Services, they will be required to dispose of the item immediately, and the individual will be referred to the Associate Director of Housing to address the violation.