UMass Boston

Open Burning and Grilling

Cooking Purposes/Permit Requirements


All activities associated with outdoor cookouts (all types, including propane-fueled and charcoal) are strictly regulated by the Boston Fire Department (The Boston Fire Prevention Code, Article XI). Fires In the Open Sections 15.01 and 15.02 (the two sections of Article XV) detail the requirements that must be satisfied to obtain an outdoor, open burning permit. A few of the basic requirements include: (1) the fire must be extinguished when the wind velocity exceeds 15 mph.; (2) the fire must be continuously supervised by a responsible adult; and (3) no fire shall be within 30 feet of any building or structure or combustible materials.

It is always necessary to get approval permits from both the Fire and Inspectional Services Departments. WITHOUT THE TWO PERMITS YOU CANNOT HAVE AN OUTDOOR COOKOUT ON CAMPUS. The steps you must take to obtain these permits are summarized below.



  1. Boston Health Department (BHD) Inspectional Services Unit 617.635.5326. If you plan an open fire and comply with the fire code regulations, you must first get an "extended use of premises" permit from this department. You must have this before the fire department will consider granting you a permit. The ISD office is located at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue.
  2. Boston Fire Prevention Department (BFD) 617.343.2187 Contact Lt. Hansen. A permit for the use of propane must be obtained from this department. You must present both the (1) inspectional services permit and (2) a letter from the "owner" of the property (the Chancellor or her designee) indicating her knowledge of the cooking activity and details of the cookout event. The permit fee is based on the amount of propane used - one, 20 cubic feet container costs $5.00, two or more containers cost an additional $25.00. The EHS office has been informed that there are no fee exemptions for state institutions. The BFD is located at 115 Southampton Street which is within walking distance from the ISD office.

Always contact the OEHS office at 617.287.5445 or whenever you plan an outdoor cookout. There are important fire watch details that have to be discussed with the event supervisor. You cannot have a cookout unless there is a 40-B:C UL Classification portable fire extinguisher on site. You can borrow one from the EHS office on a temporary basis.

Boston Fire Prevention Code (Article XI)

Article XI: Fires in the Open

Section 15.01 - Permit Required


(a) No person shall set, maintain or increase a fire in the open without obtaining a permit. Permits may be issued for periods not to exceed one year.

(b) The following classes of permits may be issued:

(i) Open Burning for Cooking Purposes
(ii) Flame-making Implements
(iii) Open Burning of Combustible Materials
(iv) Incinerators in the Open

(c) Any fire set or maintained under the authority of the permit shall be extinguished when 1) the fire would violate air pollution standards for the City of Boston; 2) wind velocity exceeds 15 m.p.h.; 3) fire hazard conditions are high or extreme; 4) a fire is not supervised or controlled in a responsible manner or 5) any combination of the above factors would make an open fire hazardous.

(d) Acceptance of a permit shall constitute an agreement on the part of the person to whom it is issued to indemnify and save harmless the City of Boston from any damage it may sustain or liability it may incur toward the third persons by reason of the issuance of the permit or any action taken thereunder.

(e) Violation of any applicable law, ordinance, regulation or any condition contained therein shall render the permit void.

(f) Fires shall at all times be under the personal supervision of the permit holder or another adult person acting under his direction who shall remain at the location of the fire until the fire is thoroughly extinguished. All fires must be extinguished at dates and times specified in the permit.

(g) No fire set or maintained under the authority of a permit shall be within 100 feet of another fire in the open, within 30 feet of any building or structure or within 30 feet of any combustible rubbish, wood, debris, trees, standing piles of lumber, combustible fibers, leaves, branches, grass or similar material.

(h) The permit holder shall have the premises equipped with fire hose sufficiently long to reach the fire. The hose shall be connected to an adequate water supply with water in the hose ready for immediate use at all times while the fire is burning, or such arrangements for firefighting as specified in the permit which may include the assignment of a paid fire detail.


Section 15.02 - Class I Permits - Open Burning for Cooking Purposes

Class I permits may be issued to a responsible adult, to be exercised at a prescribed location for a specified period for open burning cooking purposes. Spark arrestors shall be provided when the fuel used may give off embers. Such permits shall not authorize fires contrary to restrictions in the Regulations of Air Pollution Control Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston.