Unless otherwise exempt by CMR 527 (Board of Fire Prevention Regulations), a permit is required by any owner, tenant, lesee, or business to store and use flammable liquids and gases. If the quantities exceed the permitted amounts set forth in CMR 527, then a license is required to be obtained by the owner of the property where the flammables are stored or used (MGL 148 Section 13).
Due to the complicated text of the laws and codes, flammable storage permitting can be a confusing and frustrating process. To explain, Massachusetts General Law requires a license be issued for any person storing or using flammable liquids on their property (MGL 148 § 13). However, the law also allows the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations (527CMR) to exempt certain businesses, operations, and amounts of flammables to be stored or used not to require a license as long as a permit has been issued by the local fire department (527 CMR § 14). This is called the annual flammable storage permit. Furthermore, the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations may also regulate the amount of flammables that can be stored or used without a license specifically for the use intended. Fuel oil storage for oil burners, for example, is regulated by 527 CMR section 4 and not section 14. Lastly, if a request (to the fire department) for flammable storage permit exceeds the exempt amounts, then a license from the Cambridge License Commission (not the fire department) is required.
To simplify, in order to store or use any flammable materials, a permit must first be issued by the head of the fire deparment. The permit is generally issued to the person or business that occupies the property. In properties with multiple tenants, a separate permit is required for each tenant located within that property. Whether a single permit or multiple permits have been issued for a property, once the exempt amounts listed in 527 CMR Section 14 have been exceeded, then a license, in addition to the permit(s), is required. The license must be applied for by the owner of the land and only one license can be issued per parcel of land (MGL 148 § 13). Follow the License Commission guidelines to obtain a license.
Fire Department fuel storage permits must be renewed April 30 each year. It is helpful if you send a copy of your current permit with payment to the fire prevention office prior to the expiration date. Please note any change of information or strorage/use amounts when applying for the new permit. Once the payment has been processed, an inspection of the property will be made by the fire department. Important: In some instances the renewal/inspection process may extend beyond April 30. The current permit will remain valid until the renewal process is completed.
For assistance or questions regarding annual flammable storage permitting or licensing, please call (617) 349-4965. For additional information, please download the Flammable Storage Flowchart (pdf). This flowchart will provide guidance through the permitting process.