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June 17, 2005



Topic that comes up all the time which would relate to the candle issue - in college dormitories (even YU), where fire-code prohibits lighting live fire on the dormitory premises. Should an exception be made for Chanukah?


Thanks your comment. It reminds me that our first son was born in a U.S. hospital on Chanukah erev Shabbos. Luckily, the nurses let us light.

For YU dormitories, I didn’t look up the specific NY regs. Do you think the rules should be different for Chanukah than Shabbos? Some campuses allow candle-lighting by approval or in special locations. Rutgers seems to think that electric candles would be acceptiable (!). See below. For general info, National Fire Protection Agency has a guide for campus safety. Here’s an excerpt:

Candles and Incense. Information on candle fires is availablefrom the NFPA report Candle Fires in U.S. Homes and OtherOccupancies: A Statistical Analysis. From 1994 to 1998, candle fires in 140 structure fires a year caused an average of $2.3 million per year in direct damage in dormitories or Greek housing. Overall, candle use and candle fires have been increasing.As with smoking, a number of institutions have banned candles from their residence halls. Others are permitting candles within the rooms, but they cannot be lit.An issue to address is that of religious ceremonies involv-ing candles. Several institutions have continued their outright ban on candles, whereas others make provisions for students using them in religious ceremonies.Some of the conditions that are imposed include the following:
• A special permit must be obtained.
• The candles must be burned in a specific location, such asa common area. The logic
behind this is that there is less of a combustible fuel load in the common areas
than might befound in a student’s room.
• The candles must rest on a noncombustible surface.
• The candles must not be left unattended

Source: http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/Research/FPHcampusfiresafety.pdf

Rutgers: “Candles of any type (The use of candles in university housing rooms, for religious purposes, is prohibited due to the fire hazard this practice creates. Alternative appliances, electrically powered, exist to permit the resident to observe religious holidays without creating a fire hazard.)” http://rues.rutgers.edu/rhf.html

Wellesley: Candles and other open flames are prohibited. Candles may be used for normally recognized religious services only if pre-approved by EH&S and Housing (for Dorms). http://www.wellesley.edu/Activities/homepage/freeman/faq.html

Amherst: Candles for religious services and birthday parties must be approved in advance by the Amherst College Fire Marshal. Candles, incense, and similar items may not be burned or lit in any residence hall. http://www.amherst.edu/~ehs/fire/fire_safety.htm#candles

Ithaca: Candles are prohibited in all residential facilities (other than preapproved areas designated for observance of religious holidays and ceremonies). http://www.ithaca.edu/safety/pdfs/flyer_appliances.pdf

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