Fire Safety Policy and Procedures - Use of Candles for Religious Ceremonies

Ithaca College acknowledges the significance of candles in religious ceremonies and provides guidelines for their use in both residential and academic/administrative buildings. Permission for candle use must be obtained in advance, and compliance with fire safety guidelines is mandatory.

Use of Candles for Religious Ceremonies, Within Ithaca College Housing Environs:

The use of candles, incense or similar items with open flames is prohibited by New York State law in university-owned apartments and personal rooms within campus residential buildings. However, some exceptions are made for students celebrating religious festivals in which candles play a significant role. To obtain permission for candle use for special occasions, students must submit a written statement identifying the religious celebration and the nature of the use of candles. Requests must be submitted at least 3 business days in advance of the requested date to the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

Approval will be granted for (a) specific date(s) and one location only. Ithaca College reserves the right to deny any request for the use of candles or burning of incense. If permitted, candles must be used in compliance with the following fire safety guidelines:

Fire Safety Guidelines for the Use of Candles

• New York State law prohibits the lighting of candles or incense in personal apartments and rooms. Candles or incense may be used with pre-approval in common spaces designated by Residence Directors and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

• Small religious-approved candles or incense are pre-approved through the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

• Candles may not be left unattended while burning. Memorial candles in Muller Chapel may be pre-approved to be illuminated while unattended.

• A three (3) hour illumination time is suggested and will be agreed upon by the Residence Director and students. For observances that require a longer lighting time please seek pre-approval from the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

• Candles must be of the low flame variety and must be placed in a properly fitting receptacle or a shallow glass container.

• Candles must be placed on a hard, flat, non-combustible surface covered in heavy-duty aluminum foil.

• All readily combustible materials, such as drapes, must be secured away from the open flame.

• Candles shall be doused with water before disposal.

• Incense may only be used in conjunction with a burning utensil approved in advance by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

Beginning of Candle-Lighting Ceremony

• Prepare a receptacle of water for the dousing of candles and matches.

• Surfaces used for lighting need to be covered in heavy-duty aluminum foil.

• Candle receptacles should be taped securely to the table.

• Candle receptacles should be spaced out to minimize fire risk.

• Ensure there are no flammable materials located near the table – e.g., curtains, upholstered furniture, paper, etc.

End of Candle-Lighting Ceremony

• Remove candles and matches so no one else lights the candles after the designated lighting period.

• Matches and candles must be dipped in a receptacle of water before disposal for at least two minutes. Make sure the match head and candles are completely saturated before disposal. Matches should be wrapped in aluminum foil before disposal.

• Clean the area so there is no wax built up.

Request a religious accommodation

Access this online form here.

All students submitting a religious accommodation request must also meet with the Director of Religious and Spiritual Life.