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Frequently Asked Questions

The use of open flame in a public assembly requires a permit, candles included, and religious services are considered public assemblies. The requirements for the type of candle are extensive and include fuel, holder, wax, chimney and other specific requirements. The 2003 International Fire Code does make some exceptions though for religious ceremonies. Section 308.3.5 (Religious Ceremonies) states, “When, in the opinion of the Chief, adequate safeguards have been taken, participants in religious ceremonies are allowed to carry hand-held candles. Hand-held candles shall not be passed from one person to another while lit.”

The 2003 International Fire Code (Section 605.9 Temporary Wiring) requires that decorative lighting be removed after 90 days.

Information concerning the various types of Inspections performed by the Austin Fire Department, including pre-inspection checklists, can be found on our Types of Inspections page. We encourage you to visit this site and review the materials to ensure that you are ready for your inspection, prior to scheduling.

To schedule an inspection, please call (512) 974-0153 option 3 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 3 p.m. on M, W-F and 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Yes, and no. Open burning in the City of Austin requires a permit from the Fire Marshal's Office. Any Open Burning without a permit is prohibited, and may result in a citation. This includes the burning of trash, rubbish, yard clippings, tree trimmings, etc.

Open Burning is defined in the Fire Code as:

“… The burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber. Open burning does not include road flares, smudgepots and similar devices associated with safety or occupational uses typically considered open flames or recreational fires. For the purpose of this definition, a chamber shall be regarded as enclosed when, during the time combustion occurs, only apertures, ducts, stacks, flues or chimneys necessary to provide combustion air and permit the escape of exhaust gas are open.”

Recreational Fires are defined in the Fire Code as:

“An outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit and has a total fuel area of 3 feet (914 mm) or less in diameter and 2 feet (610 mm) or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.”

Requirements for Recreational Ground Fires and Portable Outdoor Fireplaces.

Yes, but remember, “the storage of combustible materials in a building shall be orderly.” (2003 International Fire Code, Section 315.2, Storage in Buildings)

The requirements for draft stopping go all the way back to the 1928 Uniform Building Code. Over the decades the size of attic space that required draft stopping has changed. The current requirement of draft stops being required in attics larger than 3,000 square feet was included in the 1970 Code (adopted by the City of Austin on Dec. 21, 1971). Basically, any structure built or remolded since the early 1970s needs to have draft stopping every 3,000 square feet of attic space.

The Emergency Prevention Division conducts “Night Inspections” to handle the overcrowding issues at Austin’s bars and nightclubs. The Night Inspection Program consists of teams of inspectors who visit various establishments during the peak hours on weekend nights. They count patrons at the establishments and compare the actual persons present with the legally allowed “occupant load.” They also check items such as exits and lighting for fire code compliance. If the bar exceeds its occupant load, then the management is subject to fines for the violation.

Yes, we respond to requests for “walk-throughs” at businesses and requests for Home Safety Inspections. We also respond to complaints at locations with known or suspected fire hazards.