Guidelines for Candles in Public Assembly

SUBJECT: Approval of candles and open-flame decorative lighting for use within an assembly occupancy.

CODE REFERENCE: Section 308.3.2, 2007 San Francisco Fire Code

Use of candles and open-flame decorative lighting on dining tables, buffet tables and stands within assembly occupancy must be approved by the Bureau of Fire Prevention. The following testing and approval procedures shall be use:


1. The use of Class I and II liquids, and liquefied petroleum gases (LPG) as a fuel source is prohibited.

2. Liquids or solid-fueled lighting devices containing more than 8 ounces must be self-extinguishing and not leak fuel at a rate of more than one-fourth (1/4th) teaspoon per minute if tipped over.

3. The device or holder shall be constructed to prevent the spillage of liquid fuel or wax at the rate of more than one-fourth (1/4th) teaspoon per minute when the device or holder is not in an upright position.

4. The flame shall be enclosed in a non-combustible chimney. The candle or open-flame decorative lighting device may set in the chimney enclosure or the enclosure may be securely attached to the device.

5. Openings on the sides of the chimney shall not exceed 3/8 inch in diameter. The openings on the top and distance from the top of the chimney to the top of the flame shall be such that a single layer of tissue paper placed on the top of the chimney will not ignite in 10 seconds.

6. Shades, if used, shall be non-combustible and securely attached to the open-flame device holder or chimney.

7. Candelabras with flame-lighting candles shall be securely fastened in place to prevent overturning and located away from occupants using the area and away from possible contact with drapes, curtains, or other combustibles.

8. The candle holder or chimney shall be designated so that it will not be easily tilted or knocked over.


1. Devices shall be brought to the Permit Section of the Bureau of Fire Prevention located at 698 2nd Street, Room 109, San Francisco, CA 94107 for testing and approval.

2. Each device will be examined for compliance with code requirements.

3. A tissue test will be performed on each device.

4. If the device passes, the requesting party must obtain a P-238 Temporary Use of Open Flame or P-138 Use of Open Flame fire permits, which authorize the use of device in assembly occupancy.

5. A SFFD approval listing the description of the device, measurement of opening and distance of top of the chimney to the flame, the size of candle authorized for use with the chimney and any applicable use restrictions will be issued to the permit holder.


Revised 7/16/2008