The greater Los Angeles area is fairly complex. The city is in Los Angeles County and does not leave those boundaries. The main mass of LA is in the LA valley shared with Orange county and it's cities. The rest is in the San Fernando Valley going as far west as the 405 highway. Surrounding regions are rural metropolean cities like most major cities.

LA becomes complex in it's neighborhoods. As it enjoyed the post-Hoover Dam expansions early last century, each manageable region became known by the neighborhood name: Hollywood, Venice, Silver Lake, etc. Over the years, a few of these neighborhoods, in unpredictable patterns, have split off from LA and become cities in their own right: West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, etc. Many are completely encircled by the main mass of LA. Very few of these cities have fire codes, even fire departments of their own, and thus depend on county services for fire protection. Some, like Santa Monica have very restrictive fire codes that are enforced by the county, and some, like Culver City, have both codes and their own Fire Department.

Since the incorporation lines between these cities are not listed in the local maps (Thomas guide, et al) in a clear manner, it is often very difficult to know exactly if you are in LA, LA county, or another city's direct jurisdiciton. The best method of discovering which set of codes to obey is this: Find the owner of the location or someone who can provide the exact address including zip code. Once the address is known, call LA City FD and ask if it's their jurisdiction. If it is, get a permit for open flame acts. If not, they will know which FD to call.

The truly bad thing about all of this is: LA County does not have regulations for open flame acts, however it does have a rider in it's code set that states any use of open flame, not specifically permitted in the codes, or by a Marshal, is forbidden. Technically speaking, butane lighters are still illegal to use. And since most uses of open flame are unenforceable (like Bic lighters), the level of enforcement of open flame acts is left up to individual interpretation. Needless to say, getting a permit is a very tricky proposition.

Licensing and regulations


The state of California adhears to the Uniform Fire Code which has two relevant passages.
  • Any open flame act must be permitted by the local Fire Marshal before attempting in front of an audience.
  • And, so long as the act is reasonably safe, a permit should be granted by the relevant Marshal.
Strict procedures are in place for explosive powder (blanks, igniters, fireworks) and require licensing though the State Fire Marshal's office.
  • Los Angeles (city) - coded open flame regulations:
    • Special permit, each performance, required.
      • May be revoked at any time
      • Apply to Fire Marshall, Public Assemblage Unit, LA (213)978-3640
    • Seating plans must be provided to Fire Marshal
    • Audience may not be exposed to flame.
      • Upon clarification, audience may not be exposed to DANGER of flame. It's okay to dance around a willing audience member, but you can't blow fireballs over their heads.
    • No open flame in audience area.
    • Flame height limited to 12 inches.
      • A guideline only. No 3 foot flames. If your poi get up to 14" by accident, they won't shut you down.
    • No fuels under 50 degree flash point.
      • A city inspector admitted that this was dated. Their preferred fuel indoors is lighter fluid (Naphtha) to reduce smoke for public safety.
    • All containers approved, and less than 1 pint in capacity.
      • Okay, i got clarification on this. The AND should be an OR here. They're mostly concerned with the vapors caused by fuels getting out an filling a room. If you walk in with your fuel in retail containers (Coleman, et al), pour into a dip bucket, and walk out with it back in a retail container, that's cool. If you're using a fuel that has a lower flash point than 100 degrees fahrenheit, your dip bucket should have some means of vapor retention. Sealed metal is preferred, paint cans will work, sealed plastic in metal seems best.
    • Extra fire extinguishers as needed by permit
    • Non-combustible decorations.
    • Costumes of fire safe material.
    • If indoors, sprinklered buildings only.
    • All wicks must be firmly secured.
    • Fire devices may not leave performers hands,
    • except where specifically permitted outdoors.
    Open flame permits are granted with an official city seal and in triplicate: one for the performer, venue, and the department. In most cases, an on site inspector will be required at an hourly rate for a minimum of 4 hours. Onsite inspector may add requirements.

  • Los Angeles County - heavy administrational confusion. Cities covered.
    • Must have inspector onsite
    • All regs determined by inspector.
    • Probably will accept LA city or NAFAA regulations.

  • Santa Monica
    • Santa Monica has adopted the NAFAA regs as it's guideline for all open flames within the city; except on the promenade.
    • (f) No performer shall use any knife, sword, torch, flame, axe, saw, or other object that can cause serious bodily injury to any person, or engage in any activity, including but not limited to, acrobatics, tumbling, or unicycling, that can cause serious bodily injury to any person.

  • Culver City
    • Any open flame act must be permitted by the Fire Marshal's office.
  • Orange County - rigid and clear codes that supercede any local codes
    • Every open flame act, public or private must be permitted by the OCcFD, not even rehearsals are alllowed.
    • Permits tend to run about $100-200 depending on complexity of FD task.
    • Repeating shows in same venue covered by one permit.
    • Certain cities with OC may have additional regs.
  • San Diego - rigid and clear codes
    • Every open flame act, public or private must be permitted by the Office of Special events.
    • A fire Marshall may be required to be on hand ($60/hr fee)
    • Permit costs for a single event application are reasonable.
  • Pasadena - rigid and clear codes
    • All open flame acts (even practice) should be permitted by the Fire Prevention Bureau of the Pasadena FD
    • Base permit fee approx $140
    • A fire Marshall may be required to be on hand ($140/hr 4hr min)
    • At least 2 weeks should be given to iron out permit details.

You could also check the surrounding areas.

California > SFO/Sacremento