Watertown Laboratory Permitting

In response to the ongoing laboratory and biotech development boom, the Watertown Fire Department has outlined a new laboratory registration and permitting process, which became effective in January 2023. These new processes are intended to document the manner in which laboratory spaces and laboratory buildings are maintaining compliance with the applicable codes to which they’ve been built, and that laboratory operations are being conducted in a safe, compliant manner.  All new laboratories filing for registration after January 1, 2023, are subject to the new process and documentation requirements; while existing laboratories with active laboratory registrations have until September 30, 2023, to update their documentation to align with the new requirements.

In addition to various laboratory operations, emergency response, and reporting documentation, as part of this new process the Watertown Fire Department is requiring additional documentation to outline the laboratory tenant applicant’s operations, anticipated chemical inventory, and compartmentation into control areas and/or laboratory units.  Further, a separate document describing the base building’s hazardous materials compliance approach is required.

The Watertown Fire Department defines these two new documents as follows:

  • Building Hazardous Materials Report: The purpose of a Building Hazardous Materials Report (708 CMR 414.1.3) is to identify each Control Area and or Laboratory Unit within a building and outline the hazardous materials strategy for the building. Detailed in this report is the maximum allowable quantities (MAQ) of hazardous materials permitted in each control area and the code required fire protection features of the building. This report shall be prepared by a qualified person, firm, or corporation.
  • Laboratory Compliance Report: To keep pace with the growing life science industry in the City of Watertown, Watertown Fire Department is requiring technical assistance from approved Fire Protection Engineers (FPE) per 527 CMR section 1.15. All new laboratory registrations, or ones requiring significant changes to an existing registration, shall utilize an approved FPE to generate a laboratory compliance report. The report will verify that the hazardous/flammable and combustible permit request is compliant with applicable fire codes and is consistent with building design based on the Building Hazardous Materials Report. The report will meet the requirements of 527 CMR Chapter 60.

Additional information related to the updated Watertown Fire Department laboratory registration and permitting process, including a complete list of the required documents, can be found on the Watertown Fire Department’s website, here.


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