Open Flame Policy


It is the policy of the University of Nevada, Reno to ensure safe and healthy learning, research, work, entertainment and student living environments for faculty, staff, students and visitors. In keeping with that policy, the University is committed to preventing the occurrence of fires and taking all reasonable steps to minimize the potential for fires in campus facilities. Due to their potential to create fire hazards, it is the policy of the University that open flame devices are not permitted on campus. Chemical, biological, engineering, or teaching labs where the open flame is part of the research/educational process, and kitchens with an exhaust hood and pre-engineered extinguishing system are exempt from this policy.


This policy applies to all University activities involving open flames. All University faculty, staff, students, visitors, and employees of industry partners when working on University-sponsored projects or at University facilities are included in the scope of this policy. Fire prevention is the responsibility of all personnel. Maintenance and Facilities Services staff in compliance with the Hot Work Permit Program are exempt.


Open flame devices shall be permitted to be used in the following situations, provided that precautions satisfactory to Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) and the Nevada State Fire Marshal (through express written consent) are taken to prevent ignition of any combustible material or injury to occupants:

  1. For ceremonial or religious purposes
  2. On stages and platforms where part of a performance
  3. Where candles on tables are securely supported on substantial noncombustible bases and candle flame is protected

To request an exception, please contact the Occupational Health & Safety Manager and include the following information: the type of event and expected number of attendees, the building name and room number (approximate location if outdoors) where the event will take place, the type of flame device and why it is needed. Environmental Health & Safety will consult the Nevada State Fire Marshal for approval. A copy of the State Fire Marshal’s written approval will be kept by Environmental Health and Safety.

An exception for the use of solid alcohol fuel gel (a.k.a. Sterno) for food warming will automatically be granted to University employees, contractors, and vendors if all of the following guidelines are met:

  • A “BC” or “ABC” rated multi-purpose fire extinguisher will be present within the immediate area. Fire extinguisher training is available through EH&S.
  • Someone must maintain watch and be responsible for lit containers at all times.
  • Table covers must be made of a flame-resistant material (i.e. cotton rather than synthetic material).
  • No combustible materials (i.e. paper napkins, plates, decorations, etc.) shall be placed within 12 inches of a lit fuel container.
  • Solid alcohol fuel gels are not recommended for use outdoors in windy conditions.
  • Lit fuel containers should be extinguished before they are moved.

Responsible Authority

Environmental Health and Safety, Safety Specialist (record management and inspections)


This policy has been developed in response to incidents of fire on campus.

Reference Regulations

IFC (2018) Section 308

NFPA 30 (2018) Chapter 5

NFPA 101 (2018) 12.7.3, 13.7.3

29 CFR 1910.106(b)(6)

29 CFR 1910.159(c)(10)


Open flame device

candles, incense, torches, butane burners, or any other flame device, excluding cigarette lighters or matches


Department Chairperson/Director

The ultimate responsibility and authority for the Fire Prevention program rests with Department Chairpersons or Directors. It is their responsibility to ensure that the program is carried out within their area of authority.

Supervisors, Principal Investigators, Project Leaders

Individuals who have a supervisory responsibility play a key role in the Fire Prevention program. They have responsibility for:

  • Supervisors must ensure that safe fire prevention practices are followed on a daily basis.
  • Ensuring that subordinates follow universal fire prevention responsibilities.

Employees and Students

Employees and students are responsible for following safe work and research practices to minimize the risk of a fire and complying with universal fire prevention responsibilities.

The following are universal fire prevention responsibilities:

  • Building occupants shall not obstruct or tamper with any safety features such as exit signs, sprinkler systems, heat and smoke detectors, alarm pulls, horns and strobes, etc.
  • Fire doors may not be propped open except with an approved magnetic interlock device.
  • Sprinkler heads and pipes may not be used to support decorations or other items and stored materials must be at least eighteen inches below a sprinkler head.
  • Flammable and combustible storage shall be in conformance with appropriate national, state and local codes and or standards.
  • Stairwells shall be kept free of obstructions and shall not be used for storage, recycle containers, vending machines, etc.
  • Hallways may not be used for temporary or permanent storage of combustible materials, items that could inadvertently be moved into the traffic path during an emergency or items that reduce the width of the hallway.
  • Open flames (i.e.: laboratory burners, propane and acetylene torches, etc.) are not permitted outside of laboratories and other designated hot work areas without a hot work permit obtained from authorized Facilities Services or Buildings and Grounds personnel.
  • Laboratory personnel must never leave a laboratory burner burning unattended.