Does Your Laboratory Project Need a Flammable License, Permit or both?

As an increasing number of laboratory core and shell, fit out, and building conversion projects are hitting the market, a frequent point of confusion we hear about is what is the difference between a flammable permit and a flammable license and when are each needed?  The sections below have been designed to help identify the regulatory landscape on this important topic, as it is an often overlooked, but critical piece of laboratory permitting.

How are flammable and combustible liquids defined and regulated?

The storage and use of flammable and combustible liquids is regulated by law in accordance with 148 MGL Sections 9 & 13, Massachusetts General Laws as well as 527 CMR 1.00, Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code. The Massachusetts Fire Safety Code describes provisions for flammable and combustible liquids based on their hazard classification, which can be found defined within NFPA 30: “Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code” follows[1]:

Flammable Liquids

  • Class IA:  Flash Point less than 73°F; Boiling Point less than 100°F
  • Class IB ‐ Flash Point less than 73°F; Boiling Point equal to or greater than 100°F
  • Class IC ‐ Flash Point equal to or greater than 73°F, but less than 100°F

Combustible Liquids

  • Class II ‐ Flash Point equal to or greater than 100°F, but less than 140°F
  • Class IIIA ‐ Flash Point equal to or greater than 140°F, but less than 200°F
  • Class IIIB ‐ Flash Point equal to or greater than 200°F

Using the classifications above, and based on the total quantity of flammable and combustible liquids used within a building or tenant space, 527 CMR Table outlines the quantity thresholds subject to permitting or licensing by the municipality.  Specific care should be taken to review any local city or town amendments with respect to the need for permitting and licensing.

Flammable license or permit?

In simple terms, a flammable permit is obtained by each building tenant and is enforced at a local municipality level. It is used to communicate to the fire department the maximum quantity that the tenant will have in their space at any point in time. A flammable license differs in that its held by the building owner and contains the maximum amount of flammable liquids in the entire building across all tenants.

Flammable Permits are applied for within and issued through the local Fire Department, whose processes for issuance vary by municipality but are commonly listed in detail within the Fire Department’s website. A typical Flammable Storage Permit application can include:

  • Completed Massachusetts Standard Permit Form FP-006, or specific Fire Department Permit form(s) for your municipality;
  • Description or list of Flammable and Combustible Liquids by classification to be stored within the facility or portion thereof;
  • Application processing fees

A key understanding for flammable licenses is that they are only required when certain thresholds contained in 527 CMR Table are exceeded.  The flammable license application and approval is a much more robust process that is performed through the municipality’s Clerk, Selectman, or governing authority and involves approvals by the fire department and local licensing authority after a public hearing. The flammable license is a single grant that is held by the landlord or building owner and is attached to the property parcel and as such, only a single Flammable License can be active for the property. Similarly, specifics on what is included within the flammable license application varies by municipality, but a typical Flammable Storage License application can include:

  • Completed Massachusetts Standard Permit Form FP-002, or specific Municipality Licensing application form(s);
  • Certified Civil Site or Plot plan with markup detailing the locations of the storage, building exits, fire department access, cross streets and public ways, and direct abutters to the property;
  • Description or list of Flammable and Combustible Liquids by classification to be stored within the facility or portion thereof;
  • Copies of active flammable and combustible permits within the building
  • Application processing fees, public hearing fees, publication fees

If you have any questions or would like assistance with securing a flammable storage permit or license, please do not hesitate to contact us at


[1] Flash points determined in accordance with closed-cup test methods.



Application of any information provided, for any use, is at the reader’s risk and without liability to Code Red Consultants. Code Red Consultants does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in this blog as applicable codes and standards change over time. The application, enforcement and interpretation of codes and standards may vary between Authorities Having Jurisdiction and for this reason, registered design professionals should be consulted to determine the appropriate application of codes and standards to a specific scope of work.