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Western Kentucky University policy for use of open flame

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Western Kentucky University


Originator: Department of Environmental Health & Safety


The burning of candles, sparklers, incense, paper leaflets, combustible figurines or pyrotechnic devices is prohibited on WKU property and is subject to confiscation. Theatrical performances and ritualistic ceremonies involving the use of open flames, smoke foggers, and barbecue grills must be pre-approved by the Department of EHS. Legally held contraband may be retrieved at the Western Kentucky University Police Department.
Exception No. 1: Pyrotechnic special effect devices shall be permitted to be used on stages before proximate audiences for ceremonial or religious purposes, as part of a demonstration in exhibits, or as part of a performance, provided that precautions satisfactory to the authority having jurisdiction are taken to prevent ignition of any combustible material and use of the pyrotechnic device complies with NFPA 1126, Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics before a Proximate Audience.
Exception No. 2: Flame effects before an audience shall be permitted in accordance with NFPA 160, Standard for Flame Effects Before an Audience.
Exception No. 3: Open flame devices may be permitted for use in the following situations, provided that precautions satisfactory to the authority having jurisdiction are taken to prevent ignition of any combustible material or injury to occupants:

  1. Where necessary for ceremonial or religious purposes.

  2. Battery operated candles may be approved for use in lieu of open flame candles.

  3. On stages and platforms as a necessary part of a performance.

  4. Where candles on tables are securely supported on substantial noncombustible bases and candle flame is protected

Exception No. 4: This requirement shall not apply to heat-producing equipment complying with 9.2.2 of NFPA 101.
Exception No. 5: This requirement shall not apply to food service operations in accordance with 12.7.1 or 13.7.1 of NFPA 101.
Exception No. 6: Gaslights may be permitted for use, provided that precautions subject to the approval of authority having jurisdiction are taken to prevent ignition of any combustible materials. (101:12.7.2; 101:13.7.2)


Open flames are being used for various reasons to accomplish a variety of objectives that may range from air quality enhancement to scientific laboratory experimentation. This policy is not intended to govern the use of open flames used by the Dept of Physical Plant nor commercial establishments, but shall refer to applicable NFPA guidelines. The purpose of this policy is designed to enhance the overall fire safeness of the interior and exterior of our aging buildings and the life safety of its occupants through the governed use of open flame devices, equipment, and materials. Open Flame Devices and Pyrotechnics shall not be used in any assembly occupancy.



Candles are commonly used as an alternative light source in lieu of battery powered flashlights during building power outages. Scented candles and incense are frequently used to enhance air fragrance qualities where potpourri and/or aerosol sprays would be a safer and more acceptable alternative to mask undesirable odors.


The burning of ritualistic and/or ceremonial items, including but not limited to printed materials on the interior/exterior of buildings, often create smoke and airborne fire brands that may cause structural and/or grass fires.

Barbecue Grills

The use of barbecue grills and stoves often involve the production of smoke and hot embers. Activities involving the use of this type of equipment must be approved by EH&S prior to the event so that the University Fire Marshal can accomplish a site and equipment inspection. Barbecue grill restrictions do not apply to commercial establishments, or residence halls having established patio areas.


An increasing number of Western Kentucky University buildings are being equipped with fire alarm and/or sprinkler systems, which creates a margin of safety by providing early warning evacuation signals to its occupants. Nationwide fire statistics show that candle fires account for an average of 9400 fires, $120.5million in losses, 90 deaths, and 950 injuries annually. Almost half or 45% of fires caused by candles originate in the bedroom and 41% of candle fires originate from unattended candles placed too close to combustibles.

This policy applies to any individual or organization associated with Western Kentucky University, educational/scientific laboratory or clinic that is involved with the uses open flame to accomplish work assignments and procedures.


University Fire Marshal

  • The University Fire Marshal shall inspect equipment and make site visits prior to the event, unless otherwise pre-approved.

Deans, Directors, Dept. Chairs, Requestor

  • Shall notify the University Fire Marshal prior to the scheduled event so that an inspection of the site and equipment can be conducted.

  • Shall have an extinguishing agent such as water or a fire extinguisher readily assessable throughout the activity.

Reference- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 101), (01 NFPA/101:8-1.2.2)

NFPA 1/Fire Prevention Code 2000

Constructing Bonfires Policy

For More Information contact Dept. Environmental Health & Safety University Fire Marshal 745-2931

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