FIR-3.07 – Fire Performance Art


Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority


A.  This policy is established May 10, 2001.

B.  The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines to advise fire performance venues and artists of safety considerations and practices consistent with fire and life safety codes and public assembly safety concerns.

C.  This policy applies to all acts of fire performance art occurring within all areas in which Portland Fire & Rescue has authority­. Fire art refers to performances or demonstrations such as fire breathing, fire juggling, fire dancing, etc. Not included: pyrotechnics and flame effects (these are addressed in a different policy and require a separate permit).

D.  The business owner, event coordinator and the fire performer are responsible for all aspects of fire and life safety. Failure to possess a current permit and follow the minimum requirements set forth in this document will result in revocation of permit, future permits and/or issuing of citation(s).

E.  Fire performance artists shall:

1.  Be at least 18 years of age

2.  Have valid, state issued identification and Fire Performance Permit readily accessible at each performance

F.  Audience: It should be recognized that audiences, especially youthful ones, may not fully understand the dangers associated with fire performance art. Every effort should be made to emphasize the safety precautions and dangers of such activity.


A.  References:

1.  2007 Portland Fire Code, Section 308.3.7

2.  Portland City Code Title 31, Sections 31.20.110 and 31.40.020

3.  NFPA 160 Standard for Use of Flame Effects Before a Live Audience, 2011 Edition

B.  Definitions:

1.  Fire performance art: Any act (fire juggling/tossing, fire eating, fire dancing, etc.), in a public or private place, that utilizes fire.

2.  Venue: The property, facility, building, or room within a building where flame effects are used, intended to be used, or are prohibited.


The following information is provided for use by fire performance venues and artists.

A.  Safety

1.  Space:

a.  A 25-foot distance shall be maintained between the fire-involved item and any member of the audience and any combustible item within the immediate performance area. The boundary should be marked and secured identifying this perimeter. No member of the audience may come in contact with any flame or fuel at any time.

b.  The performance area should meet minimum perimeter requirements as demonstrated by the following:

i.  A three-sided performance area will be a minimum of 25′ in all directions away from a non-combustible background.

ii.  Any area lacking a non-combustible background will be a 25′ radius minimum.

iii.  A maximum of two performers shall be allowed within a performance area at any one time, with the boundaries expanded 5′ in all directions (30′ radius).

c.  A Fire Performance Art Venue’s interior space must be sprinklered and have a minimum 12-foot ceiling height. Approval will be dependant upon design, height and materials of the ceiling.

d.  Distances may be reduced by appeal through the fire marshal’s office depending upon venue layout or for devices that are not thrown or twirled. Examples would include devices such as fire eating wands and small finger torch type devices. It must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Fire Marshal that any reduction in distance provides the same level of safety as the original distances above.

2.  Spotters:

a.  Spotters should be trained in first aid measures for burns and be knowledgeable in the use of, and have ready access to, fire extinguishers and extinguishing agents.

b.  Two trained spotter(s) shall be designated for each performance, one must maintain the perimeter, and the other spotters’ sole function is to provide safety through constant monitoring of the performance, audience, and fuel storage area. In special limited circumstances the number of required spotters may be reduced by appeal when approved by the fire marshal.  An example might be: one performer outdoors with 10 members of the audience.

c.  Additional spotters may be required by the Fire Marshal when:

i.  There are three or more fire artists performing at the same time.

ii.  There is a large audience in attendance.

iii.  Any time the Fire Marshal deems necessary.

d.  Each spotter will have direct access to at least one 5-gallon open-topped bucket of water, minimum ¾ full, with a clean cup or ladle, provided for each fire performance area to cool any accidental burns. Additional water buckets may be required, dependent upon the circumstances of the performance and occupancy.

3.  Excess fuel shall be removed from devices in an approved manner before they are ignited or used in front of an audience. A “spin out bucket” must be utilized to spin off any excess fuel from devices when appropriate. If any excess fuel or flame reaches the audience or unintended materials, the performer(s) may be cited and the permit may be revoked.

B.  Extinguishing Agents:

1.  Each spotter is responsible for at least one 2A-10BC minimum classification fire extinguisher for each performance to combat any flammable or combustible liquid fires. The extinguisher(s) shall be readily available in close proximity to each of the spotters. The Fire Marshal may require additional extinguishers, dependent upon the circumstances of the performance and occupancy.

2.  At least one wet cotton towel (minimum size 15″ x 24″) for each active fire performer and a wool or Nomex blanket or Duvetyne shall be readily available to extinguish the fire implement(s). The towel should be white in color to differentiate its use from other towels that might be used to mop up flammable or combustible liquid spills. Colored towels for mopping up flammable or combustible liquids should be stored in a metal container with a tight fitting lid.

C.  Fire Implements:

1.  It is recommended that wick material consist of Aramids such as Kevlar or Nomex in combination with fiberglass.

2.  Devices & equipment shall be checked before every performance to ensure strength and integrity. If items are tethered to maintain control from launching into the audience, the tether shall be of non-combustible material in good repair, without fraying or cracking.

D.  Fuels: Common fuels include:

  • Denatured Alcohol
  • White Gas
  • Lamp Oil (smokeless/odorless)
  • Isoparaffin Oil (Shell Sol T)
  • Isoparaffin Oil (Shell Sol T)
  • “Allume Feu” brand gel fuel
  • Kerosene (recommended for outside use)

Note: Gasoline is prohibited under any circumstance. Fuel may be allowed in either the original container with the cap secured in place or in a UL Listed self-closing Flammable Liquid storage container, maximum one (1) gallon on site. Glass containers shall never be used for storage of fuel.

E.  Clothing: The clothing of performers should be of fire resistant materials such as Nomex and/or PBI. If it is not a fire resistant material, natural fiber such as wool, leather, or cotton will be worn. Synthetic clothing shall not be worn. Clothing should be snug fitting and not come in contact with any flame. If there is any unintended or inappropriate flame spread during a performance, the performers permit may be revoked and a citation issued.

F.  Smoking: Smoking shall be prohibited within the boundary of the performance and fuel storage areas.

G.  Permits:

1.  Individual Fire Performance Art Conditional Use Permit:

a.  Fire performance artists must obtain an annual “Individual Fire Performance Art Conditional Use Permit” that will be valid only for one year from date of issue. Additional locations will be required to have separate permits.

b.  Once an Individual Fire Performance Art Conditional Use Permit is issued, the artist may call the Fire Marshal’s Office Permit Desk at 503-823-3712, or e-mail the Public Assemblies Team at, within 7 days notice of an upcoming performance to add any additional dates to their permit.

c.  Each application shall be accompanied by:

i.  A copy of the performer’s photo ID.

ii.  A written letter signed by the property owner or their representative authorizing the fire art performance.

iii.  Letters will clearly indicate:

1.  The site address

2.  Business name (if applicable)

3.  Drawing with measurements outlining the performance area/perimeter

4.  Printed name/title of the person signing the letter

5.  Current contact information of building owner or their representative.

d.  Artists shall ensure that locations where they intend to perform hold a current “Conditional Use – Fire Performance Art Venue Permit”.

e.  Each individual performer will be responsible for obtaining a “Individual Fire Performance Art Conditional Use Permit”.

f.  A permit with up to 10 performers may be obtained by the leader of a fire performance troop where the troops purpose is to perform and entertain as professionals.

g.  Each performer and spotter or ‘handler’ needs to have photo ID on site or, the permit holder will be subject to revocation of the permit and subject to citation.

2.  Conditional Use Permit – Fire Performance Art Venue:

Fire performance venues, including street fairs or outdoor public gatherings, hosting a Fire Performance shall obtain an annual “Conditional Use – Fire Performance Art Venue Permit” through the Fire Marshal’s Office. A copy of this policy will be included with the permit application.

a.  Included with the permit application shall be:

i.  A site plan of the venue, including:

1.  The dimensions of the performance area, seating and equipment layout

2.  Dimensions of the room, aisles, and location of exits.

>ii.  A written letter signed by the property owner or their representative authorizing the fire art performance shall be submitted with the application.

b.  Applications must be received 7 days prior to the initial requested performance to accommodate plan review and a site visit, prior to issuing a permit.

c.  The permit will be valid for one year from date of issue.

d.  For a special one time event at a given venue, a single event venue permit may be issued per calendar year at one half the cost of a full year venue permit.

e.  The permit, approved site plan and Policy CE C-7 (FIR 3.07) should be available on site at all performances and shall be presented upon request.

f.  Venues shall ensure that artists they intend to have perform hold a current “Individual Fire Performance Art Conditional Use Permit”.

3.  Inspection: Venue owners, their representatives, and event coordinators for street fairs or outdoor public gatherings, are responsible to maintain the requirements as outlined in this policy during all fire practice and performance.