UpCodes logo
Jump To Full Code Chapter
3103.1 General
Tents and membrane structures used for temporary periods shall comply with this section and Section 3106. Other temporary structures erected for a period of 180 days or less shall comply with the International Building Code.
3103.2 Approval Required
Tents and membrane structures having an area in excess of 400 square feet (37 m2) shall not be erected, operated or maintained for any purpose without first obtaining a permit and approval from the fire code official.
Exceptions:
  1. Tents used exclusively for recreational camping purposes.
  2. Tents open on all sides that comply with all of the following:
    2.1. Individual tents having a maximum size of 700 square feet (65 m2).
    2.2. The aggregate area of multiple tents placed side by side without a fire break clearance of 12 feet (3658 mm), not exceeding 700 square feet (65 m2) total.
    2.3. A minimum clearance of 12 feet (3658 mm) to all structures and other tents.
3103.3 Outdoor Assembly Event
For the purposes of this chapter, an outdoor assembly event shall include a circus, carnival, tent show, theater, skating rink, dance hall or other place of assembly in or under which persons gather for any purpose.
3103.3.1 Special Amusement Area
Tents and other membrane structures erected as a special amusement area shall be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 914.7.1.
3103.4 Permits
Permits shall be required as set forth in Sections 105.5 and 105.6.
3103.5 Use Period
Temporary tents, air-supported, air-inflated or tensioned membrane structures shall not be erected for a period of more than 180 days within a 12-month period on a single premises.
3103.6 Construction Documents
A detailed site and floor plan for tents or membrane structures with an occupant load of 50 or more shall be provided with each application for approval. The tent or membrane structure floor plan shall indicate details of the means of egress facilities, seating capacity, arrangement of the seating and location and type of heating and electrical equipment. The construction documents shall include an analysis of structural stability.
3103.7 Inspections
The entire tent, air-supported, air-inflated or tensioned membrane structure system shall be inspected at regular intervals, but not less than two times per permit use period, by the permittee, owner or agent to determine that the installation is maintained in accordance with this chapter.
Exception: Permit use periods of less than 30 days.
3103.7.1 Inspection Report
Where required by the fire code official, an inspection report shall be provided and shall consist of maintenance, anchors and fabric inspections.
3103.8 Access, Location and Parking
Access, location and parking for temporary tents and membrane structures shall be in accordance with this section.
3103.8.1 Access
Fire apparatus access roads shall be provided in accordance with Section 503.
3103.8.2 Location
Tents or membrane structures shall not be located within 20 feet (6096 mm) of lot lines, buildings, other tents or membrane structures, parked vehicles or internal combustion engines. For the purpose of determining required distances, support ropes and guy wires shall be considered as part of the temporary membrane structure or tent.
Exceptions:
  1. Separation distance between membrane structures and tents not used for cooking is not required where the aggregate floor area does not exceed 15,000 square feet (1394 m2).
  2. Membrane structures or tents need not be separated from buildings where all of the following conditions are met:
    1. The aggregate floor area of the membrane structure or tent shall not exceed 10,000 square feet (929 m2).
    2. The aggregate floor area of the building and membrane structure or tent shall not exceed the allowable floor area including increases as indicated in the International Building Code.
    3. Required means of egress are provided for both the building and the membrane structure or tent including travel distances.
    4. Fire apparatus access roads are provided in accordance with Section 503.
3103.8.3 Location of Structures in Excess of 15,000 Square Feet in Area
Membrane structures having an area of 15,000 square feet (1394 m2) or more shall be located not less than 50 feet (15 240 mm) from any other tent or structure as measured from the sidewall of the tent or membrane structure unless joined together by a corridor.
3103.8.4 Membrane Structures on Buildings
Membrane structures that are erected on buildings, balconies, decks or other structures shall be regulated as permanent membrane structures in accordance with Section 3102 of the International Building Code.
3103.8.5 Connecting Corridors
Tents or membrane structures are allowed to be joined together by means of corridors. Exit doors shall be provided at each end of such corridor. On each side of such corridor and approximately opposite each other, there shall be provided openings not less than 12 feet (3658 mm) wide.
3103.8.6 Fire Break
An unobstructed fire break passageway or fire road not less than 12 feet (3658 mm) wide and free from guy ropes or other obstructions shall be maintained on all sides of all tents and membrane structures unless otherwise approved by the fire code official.
3103.9 Structural Stability and Anchorage Required
Tents or membrane structures and their appurtenances shall be designed and installed to withstand the elements of weather and prevent collapsing. Documentation of structural stability shall be furnished to the fire code official.
3103.9.1 Tents and Membrane Structures Greater Than One Story
Tents and membrane structures exceeding one story shall be designed and constructed to comply with Sections 1606 through 1609 of the International Building Code.
3103.9.2 Tents and Membrane Structures Greater Than 7,500 Square Feet
Tents and membrane structures greater than 7,500 square feet (697 m2) shall be designed and constructed to comply with Sections 1606 through 1609 of the International Building Code.
3103.9.3 Tents and Membrane Structures With an Occupant Load Greater Than 1,000
Tents and membrane structures with an occupant capacity greater than 1,000 persons shall be designed and constructed to comply with Sections 1606 through 1609 of the International Building Code.
3103.10 Temporary Air-Supported and Air-Inflated Membrane Structures
Temporary air-supported and air-inflated membrane structures shall be in accordance with Sections 3103.10.1 through 3103.10.4.
3103.10.1 Door Operation
During high winds exceeding 50 miles per hour (22 m/s) or in snow conditions, the use of doors in air-supported structures shall be controlled to avoid excessive air loss. Doors shall not be left open.
3103.10.2 Fabric Envelope Design and Construction
Air-supported and air-inflated structures shall have the design and construction of the fabric envelope and the method of anchoring in accordance with Architectural Fabric Structures Institute FSAAS.
3103.10.3 Blowers
An air-supported structure used as a place of assembly shall be furnished with not less than two blowers, each of which has adequate capacity to maintain full inflation pressure with normal leakage. The design of the blower shall be so as to provide integral limiting pressure at the design pressure specified by the manufacturer.
3103.10.4 Auxiliary Inflation Systems
Places of public assembly for more than 200 persons shall be furnished with an auxiliary inflation system capable of powering a blower with the capacity to maintain full inflation pressure with normal leakage in accordance with Section 3103.10.3 for a minimum duration of 4 hours. The auxiliary inflation system shall be either a fully automatic auxiliary engine-generator set or a supplementary blower powered by an internal combustion engine that shall be automatic in operation. The system shall be capable of automatically operating the required blowers at full power within 60 seconds of a commercial power failure.
3103.11 Seating Arrangements
Seating in tents or membrane structures shall be in accordance with Chapter 10.
3103.12 Means of Egress
Means of egress for temporary tents and membrane structures shall be in accordance with Sections 3103.12.1 through 3103.12.8.
3103.12.1 Distribution
Exits shall be spaced at approximately equal intervals around the perimeter of the tent or membrane structure, and shall be located such that all points are 100 feet (30 480 mm) or less from an exit.
3103.12.2 Number
Tents or membrane structures or a usable portion thereof shall have not less than one exit and not less than the number of exits required by Table 3103.12.2. The total width of means of egress in inches (mm) shall be not less than the total occupant load served by a means of egress multiplied by 0.2 inches (5 mm) per person.
TABLE 3103.12.2
MINIMUM NUMBER OF MEANS OF EGRESS AND MEANS OF EGRESS WIDTHS FROM TEMPORARY MEMBRANE STRUCTURES AND TENTS
OCCUPANT LOAD MINIMUM NUMBER OF MEANS OF EGRESS MINIMUM WIDTH OF EACH MEANS OF EGRESS (inches) MINIMUM WIDTH OF EACH MEANS OF EGRESS (inches)
Tent Membrane Structure
10 to 199 2 72 36
200 to 499 3 72 72
500 to 999 4 96 72
1,000 to 1,999 5 120 96
2,000 to 2,999 6 120 96
Over 3,000a 7 120 96
For SI: 1 inch = 25.4 mm.
  1. When the occupant load exceeds 3,000, the total width of means of egress (in inches) shall be not less than the total occupant load multiplied by 0.2 inch per person.
3103.12.3 Exit Openings From Tents
Exit openings from tents shall remain open unless covered by a flame-resistant curtain. The curtain shall comply with the following requirements:
  1. Curtains shall be free sliding on a metal support. The support shall be not less than 80 inches (2032 mm) above the floor level at the exit. The curtains shall be so arranged that, when open, no part of the curtains obstructs the exit.
  2. Curtains shall be of a color, or colors, that contrasts with the color of the tent.
3103.12.4 Doors
Exit doors shall swing in the direction of exit travel. To avoid hazardous air and pressure loss in air-supported membrane structures, such doors shall be automatic closing against operating pressures. Opening force at the door edge shall not exceed 15 pounds (66 N).
3103.12.5 Aisle
The width of aisles without fixed seating shall be in accordance with the following:
  1. In areas serving employees only, the minimum aisle width shall be 24 inches (610 mm) but not less than the width required by the number of employees served.
  2. In public areas, smooth-surfaced, unobstructed aisles having a minimum width of not less than 44 inches (1118 mm) shall be provided from seating areas, and aisles shall be progressively increased in width to provide, at all points, not less than 1 foot (305 mm) of aisle width for each 50 persons served by such aisle at that point.
3103.12.5.1 Arrangement and Maintenance
The arrangement of aisles shall be subject to approval by the fire code official and shall be maintained clear at all times during occupancy.
3103.12.6 Exit Signs
Exits shall be clearly marked. Exit signs shall be installed at required exit doorways and where otherwise necessary to indicate clearly the direction of egress where the exit serves an occupant load of 50 or more.
3103.12.6.1 Exit Sign Illumination
Exit signs shall be either listed and labeled in accordance with UL 924 as the internally illuminated type and used in accordance with the listing or shall be externally illuminated by luminaires supplied in either of the following manners:
  1. Two separate circuits, one of which shall be separate from all other circuits, for occupant loads of 300 or less.
  2. Two separate sources of power, one of which shall be an approved emergency system, shall be provided where the occupant load exceeds 300. Emergency systems shall be supplied from storage batteries or from the on-site generator set, and the system shall be installed in accordance with NFPA 70. The emergency system provided shall have a minimum duration of 90 minutes when operated at full design demand.
3103.12.7 Means of Egress Illumination
Means of egress shall be illuminated with light having an intensity of not less than 1 foot-candle (11 lux) at floor level while the structure is occupied. Fixtures required for means of egress illumination shall be supplied from a separate circuit or source of power.
3103.12.8 Maintenance of Means of Egress
The required width of exits, aisles and passageways shall be maintained at all times to a public way. Guy wires, guy ropes and other support members shall not cross a means of egress at a height of less than 8 feet (2438 mm). The surface of means of egress shall be maintained in an approved manner.

Related Code Sections