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Frequently Asked Questions

Fire Building Code

Report these violations to Emergency Prevention at (512) 974-0160. A fire inspector will be dispatched to investigate.

All types of structures, except State and Federal buildings, and single-family homes.

The City of Austin currently is using the 2009 edition of the International Fire Code.

Fire Inspections

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) 974-0160 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

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.

Fireworks Permit

The U.S. Department of Transportation does not classify the following items listed as common fireworks, and their use is allowed within the City of Austin:

  • Snake, GlowWorms – Pressed pellet of pyrotechnic composition that produces a large, snakelike ash upon burning. The ash expands in length as the pellet burns. These devices may not contain mercuric thiocyanate.
  • Smoke Device – Tube or sphere containing pyrotechnic composition that, upon ignition, produces white or colored smoke as the primary effect.
  • Wire Sparkler – Wire coated with phyrotechnic composition that produces a shower of sparks upon ignition. These items may not contain magnesium and must not exceed 100g of composition per item. Devices containing any chlorate or perchlorate salts may not exceed 5g of composition per item.
  • Trick Noisemaker – Item produces a small report intended to surprise the user. These devices include:
    • Party Popper – Small plastic or paper item containing not more than 16mg of explosive composition that is friction-sensitive. A string protruding from the device is pulled to ignite it, expelling paper streams and producing a small report.
    • Booby Trap – Small tube with string protruding from both ends, similar to a party popper in design. The ends of the string are pulled to ignite the friction-sensitive composition, producing a small report.
    • Snapper – Small, paper-wrapped item containing a minute quantity of explosive composition coated on small bits of sand. When dropped, the device explodes, producing a small report.
    • Trick Match – Kitchen or book match that has been coated with a  small quantity of explosive or phrotechnic composition. Upon ignition of the match, a small report or a shower of sparks is produced.
    • Cigarette Load – Small wooden peg that has been coated with a small quantity of explosive or pyrotechnic composition. Upon ignition of the match, a small report or a shower of sparks is produced.
    • Auto Burglar Alarm – A tube which contains pyrotechnic composition that produces a loud whistle and/or smoke when ignited. A small quantity of explosive, not exceeding 50mg, also may be used to produce a small report. A squib is used to ignite the device.

The City of Austin has adopted an ordinance forbidding the storage, use and handling of fireworks within the City of Austin and within 5,000 feet outside the city limits. The Austin Fire Department has aggressively sought compliance with this ordinance.

The Austin Fire Department’s fireworks abatement campaign has evolved over the years. Initially, it consisted of sending an engine and a truck company to all reported fireworks violations. This response was very burdensome on the emergency response system and the 911 dispatchers -- often resulting in removing emergency response apparatus away from their normal areas. In the late 1990s, AFD decided to change its approach.

A fireworks hotline was established for callers to report non-emergency fireworks violations. AFD inspectors and APD officers were available to be dispatched in teams of two each, in an APD marked unit. These units were dispatched from the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffed City personnel ranging in job responsibilities from call takers, runners, and dispatchers to a Division Chief. This campaign was conducted from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. on the Fourth of July and in many cases, the days proceeding and following the holiday.

With the advent of the new 311 system, the fireworks abatement campaign has become a more APD-oriented operation. Police department units now are dispatched from the non-emergency line. The call takers no longer are required to staff EOC, and the 911 system no longer is flooded with calls regarding fireworks violations. The Austin Fire Department has a presence on the streets, and the Fire Marshal’s Office still issues citations for violating the fireworks ordinance, and vigorously prosecuted persons responsible for starting fires as a result of fireworks.

A permit along with the following is required in order to promote or execute a commercial or consumer firework display within the City of Austin:

  • A site plan of the grounds where the display is to be held must be submitted and approved by AFD Emergency Prevention.
  • A copy of a pyrotechnic operator license issued by a State Fire Marshal’s Office (Commercial only).
  • A list of the fireworks to be used along with an MSDS for each (Commercial Only). Consumer Displays are restricted to ground devices containing 50mg or less of explosive composition and smoke devices classed as explosive 1.4G, firecrackers and small smoke bombs only.
  • A certificate of insurance must be obtained for a minimum of $1,000,000 bodily injury and $500,000 property damage if the display is aerial in nature. Non-aerial displays must have a certificate of insurance for a minimum of $500,000 bodily injury and $300,000 property damage insurance. The City of Austin must be named as co-insured on the policy.
  • A $50 permit fee and permit application form from the Austin Fire Department is required.
  • A public display permit must be obtained from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. (Commercial only).

All information must be submitted to the AFD Emergency Prevention Office at least 10 days prior to the scheduled even for review and approval. The public display must meet all State of Texas requirements as outlined in Article 5.43-4 Insurance Code and Firework rules. This booklet is available from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The following expenses are the responsibility of the fireworks contractor or pyrotechnic operator (if required):

  • $139.05/hour for each engine, depending on circumstances
  • $119/hour for each inspector required. Inspectors are required to stand by 30 minutes prior to the event, during the event, and 30 minutes after the event has ended, plus any required time for a minimum of two hours.

For a fireworks display permit call 974-0160.

It is illegal to possess fireworks within the City of Austin. It is illegal to use or sell fireworks within the City of Austin and within 5,000 feet outside the city limits.

Recruiting Prospective Applicants

Yes. Graduates from AFD’s traditional academy can get up to 15 hours of college credit from Austin Community College.

The exam is a general aptitude test that measures basic reading, writing, and math skills. A free candidate preparation guide is available from the test vendor.

No. If you are not a United States citizen, your immigration status must be current and must permit you to work a full-time job in this country. If you have questions about your immigration status or work permit, please contact Immigration officials.

Our website is the primary source of official communication for the Fire Cadet Employment process; information will be posted on the employment website as it becomes available. To complete an interest card go to www.AustinFireHire.org.

Yes. All tattoos must be coverable by an AFD uniform. The only exceptions would be tattooed wedding or commitment bands. All tattoos displaying inappropriate content must be covered while on duty.

No, all of our civil service positions are for full-time paid firefighters.

Medical evaluations are conducted at the end of the employment process for those who receive a conditional offer of hire. Applicants must meet the requirements set forth in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582, Latest Edition, and Standard on Comprehensive Occupational medical program for Fire Departments. You can view the standard here: www.nfpa.org.

A felony conviction will automatically disqualify an applicant except those exempted under The Texas Family Code, Chapter 58. If you have any questions on how this may affect your qualifications for firefighter, please consult your attorney or probation officer.

If you are unsure about this, please obtain a copy of your criminal history record. Applicants can contact their state or county offices for information on obtaining their criminal history. If the offense was in Texas, you can visit the Texas Department of Public Safety website for additional information.

For the purposes of responding to questions on AFD’s application regarding criminal history, applicants can use the following information as a guide for the definition of conviction: A person is considered to be convicted of an offense when an ADJUDICATION OF GUILT is entered against said person by a court of competent jurisdiction, or a PLEA OF GUILTY is entered, including situations where:

  • The sentence is subsequently probated and the person is discharged from probation;
  • Deferred adjudication is granted; and/or
  • The accusation, complaint, information, or indictment against the person is dismissed and the person is released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense, and the person is pardoned for the offense, unless the pardon is expressly granted for subsequent proof of innocence.

Applicants for the position of Fire Cadet must be at least 18 years of age, not to exceed age 35, on the date of the written exam.

-Check your criminal history and driving record to ensure it is correct and up to date.

-Contact the appropriate agency now to resolve any inaccuracies.

-Review the minimum qualifications and automatic disqualifiers on our website.

-Check your credit score. If there are any issues, start working now to resolve them.

-Review information about the Candidate Physical Ability Test and begin an aggressive workout schedule.  Use the CPAT Candidate Preparation Guide as a starting point.  You should also view the Cadet Readiness Physical Fitness Standards for information about physical conditioning for the training academy.

-Monitor this website frequently for updates.

-Learn about the job of an Austin Firefighter by checking out the AFD website. Suggested pages include Recruiting, which lists information on the academy and life as a firefighter.

We anticipate taking applications again during the Spring of 2013. Applications will not be available to fill out until that time. Please continue to visit www.AustinFireHire.org for more information.

Participants in the Austin Fire Department’s Academy are hired into the position of Fire Cadet or Fire Cadet Senior, and are considered full-time employees with benefits. Individuals are hired into these positions from the Eligibility List that is established at the end of the employment process.

No. AFD is unable to sponsor individuals desiring a work permit.