Tents & Membrane Structures

Tents and Canopies 2014 Indiana Fire Code, Chapter 31

3101.1- …tents and membrane structures having an area in excess of 400 square feet shall be in accordance with Chapter 31.

3103.5- Temporary tents, air-supported, air-inflated or tensioned membrane structures shall not be erected for a period of more than 30 days within a 12-month period on a single premise.

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 to the fire department having jurisdiction. The tent, canopy or membrane structure floor plan shall indicate details of the means of egress facilities, arrangement of the seating and location and type of heating and electrical equipment.

3103.8.2– Temporary membrane structures, tents, air-support or air-inflated structures shall not be located within twenty (20) feet of lot lines, buildings, other temporary membrane structures, other tents, parked vehicles, or internal combustion engines.  For purposes of determining required distances, support ropes and guy wires shall be considered part of the temporary membrane structure or tent.


1. When the aggregate floor area does not exceed 15,000 square feet, separation distance between temporary membrane structures, and tents, in which open or exposed flame equipment is not used, and lot lines, buildings, other temporary membrane structures, other tents, parked vehicles, or internal combustion engines is not required.

2. Temporary membrane structures and tents need not be separated from buildings when all of the following conditions are met:

2.1 The aggregate floor area of the temporary membrane structure or tent shall not exceed 10,000 square feet.

2.2 The aggregate floor area of the building and temporary membrane structure or tent shall not exceed the allowable floor area including increases in the Indiana Building Code.

2.3 All required exiting provisions for the building and the temporary membrane structure, or tent, including travel distance.

2.4 Fire apparatus access roads are provided in accordance with Section 503

3.  Membrane structures and tents with an aggregate area of 400 sq. ft. or less, used for open or exposed flame cooking shall be separated from buildings, tents, parked vehicles or internal combustion engines by a minimum distance of ten (10) feet.


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 a minimum of 80 inches (2032 mm) above the floor level at the exit. The curtains shall be so arranged that, when open, no part of the curtain obstructs the exit.

2. Curtains shall be of a color, or colors, that contrast with the color of the tent.

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 when the exit serves an occupant load of 50 or more.

3103.12.6.1- Exit sign illumination. Exit signs shall be of an approved self-luminous type or shall be internally or externally illuminated by luminaries supplied in the following manner:

1. Two separate circuits, one of which shall be separate from all other circuits, for occupant loads of 300 or less; or

2. Two separate sources of power, one of which shall be an approved emergency system, shall be provided when 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 the ICC Electrical Code.

3103.12.7- Means of egress illumination. Means of egress illumination shall be installed at required exit doorways and where otherwise necessary to indicate clearly the direction of egress when the exit serves an occupant load of fifty (50) or more.  Means of egress shall be illuminated with light having an intensity of not less than one 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.

3104.2- Flame propagation performance treatment. The owner or agent shall file with the fire code official a certificate executed by an approved testing laboratory certifying that the tents and membrane structures and their appurtenances; sidewalls, drops and tarpaulins; floor coverings, bunting and combustible decorative materials and effects, including sawdust when used on floors or passageways, are composed of material meeting the flame propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701 or shall be treated with a flame retardant in an approved manner and meet the flame propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701, and that such flame propagation performance criteria are effective for the period specified.

3104.6- Smoking. Smoking shall not be permitted in tents, canopies or membrane structures. Approved “No Smoking” signs shall be conspicuously posted in accordance with Section 310.

3104.7- Open or exposed flame equipment. Open flame or other devices emitting flame, fire or heat or any flammable or combustible liquids, gas, charcoal or other cooking device or any other unapproved devices shall not be permitted inside or located within 10 feet of the tent or membrane structures while open to the public.

Exception:  Open or exposed flame equipment emitting flame that is visible during the ordinary use of the equipment shall be permitted in temporary membrane structures or tents having an aggregate floor area of 400 square feet or less.  Surfaces subject to oil or grease deposits shall be cleaned at intervals frequently enough to prevent oil or grease deposits from exceeding a thickness of twenty-five thousandths (0.025) inch.

3104.8- Fireworks. Fireworks shall not be used within 100 feet (30 480 mm) of tents or membrane structures.

3104.11- Clearance. There shall be a minimum clearance of at least 3 feet (914 mm) between the fabric envelope and all contents located inside the membrane structure.

3104.15.3- Location. Cooking and heating equipment shall not be located within 10 feet (3048 mm) of exits or combustible materials.

3104.15.6- Outdoor cooking. Outdoor cooking that produces sparks or grease-laden vapors shall not be performed within 10 feet (6096 mm) of a tent or membrane structure.

3104.16.2.1- Portable LP-gas containers of 500 gallons or less capacity shall have a minimum separation between the container and any fuel-operated device, including, without limitation, LP-gas, gasoline, electric, wood, coal, or charcoal-fueled equipment of not less than ten (10) feet, but in no event shall the container be located within or under the tent, or temporary membrane structure.

3104.19- Separation of generators. Generators and other internal combustion power sources shall be separated from tents or membrane structures by a minimum of 20 feet (6096 mm) and shall be isolated from contact with the public by fencing, enclosure or other approved means.

3104.22- Waste material. The floor surface inside tents or membrane structures and the grounds outside and within a 30-foot (9144 mm) perimeter shall be kept free of combustible waste and other combustible materials that could create a fire hazard.  Such waste shall be stored in approved containers until removed from the premises at least once a day during the period the structure is occupied by the public.