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Tent Permits

The International Fire Code 2015 states tents greater than 400 square feet cannot be erected without a permit and approval from the fire code official.

Exception:

  • A permit is not needed if the Tent is OPEN ON ALL SIDES and meets ALL of the following
    1. The tent has a square footage of 700 square feet or less
    2. Multiple tents without fire breaks have an aggregate square footage 700 square feet or less
    3. Has a minimum clearance of 12 feet to all structures and other tents

For tents requiring a permit, 20 feet clearance from all structures (buildings, other tents,) parked vehicles or internal combustion engines, and Lot Lines must be maintained.

Tents greater than 15,000 square feet shall have a minimum of 50 feet clearance from all other tents and structures.

Permit Applications

When applying for a permit, applicants must file a permit request with the appropriate Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) three (3) weeks in advance of the tent installation.  Have all the information requested when applying.  For City of Ithaca permits, you must attend a permit meeting on Tuesday afternoon at Humphreys Service Building. Contact Paula Slocum to get on the city permit meeting agenda.

  • City of Ithaca – Building Department – 607-274-6508
  • Town of Ithaca – Building & Code Enforcement – 607-273-1783
  • Village of Cayuga Heights – Code Enforcement Department – 607-257-5536
  • State Campus Properties and Buildings – Ralph D’Amato 607-254-5536

The application varies by AHJ but typically must include: 

  • Detailed site plan
  • Detailed floor plan showing means of egress, seating capacity, seating arrangement, equipment setup, exit signs, and location of fire extinguishers.
  • Detailed plan showing location and type of electrical, cooking and heat producing equipment
  • Flame resistance treatment certification from an approved testing laboratory
  • Applicable fee payable to AHJ
  • Contact information of Tent Vendor

Other Items to Consider when using Tents

Underground Utilities

  • must be located and identified

Anchorage/Stability

  • Adequately roped, braced and anchored to withstand weather

Tents used for Cooking

  • Minimum separation of 20 feet from other tents/structures
  • Public is not allowed inside tents used for cooking

Food Warming in Tents

  • Food can be kept warm using sterno with the appropriate chaffing dishes inside tents used by the public

LP Gas and Other Fuels

(In the City of Ithaca a propane use permit is required.  Obtain one from the Ithaca Fire Department)

  • Cylinders must not be inside a tent
  • Position cylinders outside with safety valves pointing away from the tent
  • Flammable and combustible liquids are not allowed in tents used by the public
  • Heating units used inside tents must be approved for such use by the tent manufacturer – 2 feet from tent walls and not within 10 feet of any exit

Event Safety

All event safety guidelines apply to events held in tents. Go to the Event Management Web Page to view Event Safety Documents. 

  • Do not use fire, candles and other open flame devices inside tents.
  • “No Smoking” signs must be posted in the tent.
  • Fire apparatus access roads in accordance with IFC 503. The University Fire Marshal's Office will provide guidance to meet the requirements of Fire Department Access Roads.
  • Fire extinguisher(s) are the Tent Vendor’s responsibility.
  • The appropriate code enforcement agency has the right to inspect your setup and enforce all applicable codes and regulations

Seating, Occupancy and Exits

  • Seating and occupancy plan is required
  • Exits required and Exit signs posted. Exit signs to be internally or externally illuminated per NFPA 70 for tents occupied by 50 or more persons. Paper signs are not acceptable.
  • Safe path to public way

Other Safety Concerns

  • Hay and sawdust shall not be used under tents.  (Exceptions: Daily care of animals)
  • Decorations – minimal use and non-combustible or flame retardant
  • Where side walls are in use – 3 feet clearance from interior set up
  • Extinguishers in place and visible
Minimum Number of Exits based on the Occupant Number in Tents
Occupant Load ​Minimum Number of Means of Egress ​Tent: Minimum Width of Each means of Egress (inches) Membrane Structure: Minimum Width of Each Means of Egress (inches)
10 to 199​ ​2 ​72 ​36
​200 to 499 ​3 ​72 72​
​500 to 999 ​4 ​96 ​72
​1,000 to 1,199 ​5 ​120 ​96
​2,000 to 2,299 ​6 ​120 ​96
​Over 3,000 ​7 ​120 ​96
 

Tent Occupancy Sizing Chart

​Tent size ​Sq. Footage Est. Net Sq. Footage w/Sides Est. Max Occupancy with Sides Est. Max Occupancy without Sides
​Standing ​Chairs Only Tables & Chairs ​Standing ​Chairs Only Tables & Chairs
​20 X 20 ​400 ​160 ​​32 ​22 ​10 ​80 ​​57 ​​26
​20 X 30 ​600 ​300 ​​60 ​42​ ​20 ​​120 ​​85 ​40
​20 X 40 ​800 ​440 ​​88 ​​62 ​​29 ​​160 ​114 ​​53
​20 X 60 ​1,200 ​720 ​144 ​​102 ​​48 ​​240 ​​171 ​​80
​20 X 80 ​1,600 ​1,000 ​​200 ​​142 ​​66 ​​320 ​​228 ​​106
​20 X 100 ​2,000 ​1,280 ​​256 ​160 ​​85 ​​400 ​​250 ​133
​30 X 30 ​900 ​540 ​​108 ​​77 ​36 ​​180 ​128 ​60
​30 X 40​ ​​1,200 ​780 ​​156 ​​111 ​​52 ​​240 ​171 ​​80
​30 X 60​ ​1,800 ​1,260​ ​252​ ​​180 ​84​ ​360​ ​​257 ​120​
​40 X 40​ ​​1,600 ​​1,120 ​​224 ​​160 ​​75 ​​320 ​​228 ​​106
​40 X 60​ ​​2,400 ​​1,800 ​​360 ​​257 ​​120 ​​360 ​​257 ​​120
​40 X 80​ ​​3,200 ​2,480 ​​496 ​​354 ​165 ​640​ ​​457 ​213​
​40 X 100​ ​​4,000 ​​3,160 ​​632 ​​451 ​​210 ​​800 ​​571 ​266
​60 X 60​ ​​3,600 ​​2,880 ​576 ​​411 ​192 ​720 ​​514 ​240
​60 X 80​ ​​4,800 ​​3,960 ​​792 ​​565 ​​264 ​​960 ​​685 ​320
​60 X 100​ ​6,000​ ​​5,160 ​​1,032 ​737 ​344 ​​1,200 ​​857 ​400
​80 X 80​ ​6,400 ​​5,440 ​​1,080 ​​777 ​362 ​​1,280 ​​914 ​​426
​80 X 100​ ​​8,000 ​6,920 ​​1,384 ​​988 ​​461 ​​1,600 ​​1,143 ​533
​​100 X 100 ​​10,000 ​​8,800 ​​1,760 ​​1,257 ​​586 ​​2,000 ​​1,428 ​​666

NOTE: These are only estimates, the final maximum occupancy will be based on the set up within the tents. Deductions from the available square footage taken for: Egress Aisles (Larger Events); Stages; Bar area (if inside the Dining Tent); Buffet Setu Up. It is required that all proposed set ups for tented events be approved by the Fire Marshal's Office.