Fire Permit Process for Tents and Other Membrane

Fire Prevention Standards Fire Department

January 14, 2019
  • DOC
  • 398 KB


Informational Bulletin – Permit Application

Tents and Other Temporary Membrane Structures

January 2019


Fire Prevention Bureau Permit Process


Tents and Other Temporary Membrane Structures


Complete this document and use it as your permit submittal.  Also furnish the following:

  • Flame spread certificates.
  • Proof of Worker’s Compensation.
  • Proof of City business license (may obtain when filing for permit).

Permit submittals are made at the City Hall Community Development Counter at 1400 Fifth Avenue.

  • Submit two sets of complete documents.


The construction, operation, and use of Tents and other Membrane structures shall be in accordance with Chapter 31 of the 2016 California Fire Code (CFC) and applicable Health and Safety Code sections.


Tent Definition

–       Tents and Membrane Structures having an area in excess of 400 square feet.


  OPERATIONAL FIRE PERMIT Fees / City of San Rafael

–       Permit Fee = $240.00 + archival fees (fees will vary on case by case basis).

–       Re-Inspection Fee (if required) = FBHR minimum one hour.

–       Note: If an Electrical Permit is required this must be obtained through Community Development Department.



  • Fire Plot Plan (Fire / Life Safety)
    • To include clearance distances between Tents, Canopies and Membrane structures.
  • Electrical: Generators / Exterior Power Tap.





  • Fire Apparatus/ Ambulance access. (CFC 503)
  • Location and parking adjacent to the activity minimum 20 feet. (CFC 2403.8.2)

NOTE: (for determining required distances, support ropes and guy wires shall be considered as part of the temporary membrane structure or tent

  • Not located within 20’ of lot lines, buildings or other tents.



  • Tents or membrane structures shall be adequately roped, braced and anchored to withstand elements of weather and prevent against collapsing. Documentation of structural stability shall be furnished to the Code Official upon request.



  • One (1) type 2-A :10BC fire extinguisher shall be provided in every Tent having floor area between 500 and 1,000 square feet.
  • One (1) additional 2-A fire extinguisher is required in each auxiliary adjacent Tent or Canopy.
  • At least one (1) 10B-C fire extinguisher shall be provided with each
  • At least one (1) 10B-C fire extinguisher shall be provided in cooking areas, dining areas, locations where flammable/combustible liquids or flammable gases are used, stored or dispensed and generator location.
  • One (1) Class K fire extinguisher shall be provided in each area where deep fat fryers are used.

The Fire Marshal may modify or waive any of these requirements.

Additional Fire Extinguishers or Size Required

MAXIMUM OCCUPANT LOAD (CFC 1003 and Table 3103.12.2)

  • Maximum Occupant Load is based on the square footage within the temporary membrane structure divided by the appropriate occupant load factor found in CFC Table 1004.1.1. This determination would be calculated by the Fire Inspector at time of plan review. Example illustrated below:
    • Assembly-with chairs only, 7 net
    • Assembly-standing space only, 5 net
    • Assembly-with tables & chairs, 15 net
  • Sign Posted in a conspicuous place near the main exit or exit access doorway (CFC Section 1004.3).


  SEATING ARRANGEMENTS (CFC 1029 and 3103.11)

Tables shall be spaced a minimum of 54 inches apart



  • Exit openings remain open unless covered by a flame-resistant curtain.
  • Curtains shall be free sliding on a metal support.
  • The support shall be a minimum of 80 inches above the floor level at the exit.
  • The curtains shall be so arranged that, when open, no part of the curtain obstructs the exit and curtains shall be of a color or colors which contrast with the color of the tent.
  • All points are 100 feet or less from an exit.

Aisle – shall not be less than 44 inches.


  • The required width of exits, aisles and passageways shall be maintained at all times to a public way.
  • Guywires, guyropes and other support members shall not cross a means of egress at a height of less than 8 feet.
  • The surface of means of egress shall be maintained in an approved manner.



–       Exits, aisles and passageways shall not be blocked or have their minimum clear width obstructed in any manner, by chairs, equipment, ticket offices, turnstiles, concessions, chairs, poles, guy wires or in any way whatsoever, nor blocked by persons.



  • Fixtures required for means of egress illumination shall be supplied from a separate circuit or source of power.


EXIT SIGNS (CFC 3103.12.6)

  • Exits shall be clearly marked.
  • Exit signs must be installed at required exit doorways and where otherwise necessary to clearly indicate the direction of egress where multiple exits are provided.



  • Except as approved by the Fire Marshal, open flame or any heat producing device shall not be permitted inside or located within 20 feet of a Tent or Membrane structure
  • Smoking shall not be permitted in Tents and Membrane structures, or in adjacent areas. NO SMOKING” signs shall be conspicuously posted on both sides of the tent or canopy.  Designated Smoking area/location shall be 50 feet away of perimeter membrane and entrances.
  • Fireworks and Pyrotechnic special effects shall not be permitted in Tents and Membrane structures.
  • All tent fabrics and all interior decorative fabrics or materials shall be flame resistant and identified with SFM Label. (CFC 3104.3 and Title 19)
  • No hay, straw, shavings or similar combustible materials allowed.



  • Except as approved by the Fire Marshal, cooking shall not be permitted inside or located within 20 feet of a tent or canopy in accordance with (CFC 2404.7 and 2404.15.6)
  • Exception: Operation such as warming foods, cooking demonstrations and similar operations which do not present an ignition hazard. (CFC 2404.15.4)
  • Location: Cooking and heating equipment shall not be located within 10 feet of exits or combustible materials. (CFC 2404.15.3)
  • Cooking Tents: Tents where cooking is approved shall be separated from other Tents and Membrane structures by a minimum of 20 Feet. (CFC 2404.15.5)



  • Flammable–liquid–fueled equipment shall not be used in Tents and Membrane structures. (CFC 3104.17.1)
  • Flammable and Combustible Liquid Storage: Shall be stored outside in an approved manner not less than 50 feet from Tents and Membrane structures. Storage shall be in accordance with CFC Chapter 34.
  • Refueling: Shall be performed in an approved location not less than 20 feet from Tents and Membrane structures. (CFC 3104.17.3)



–       Batteries: Batteries shall be disconnected in an approved manner.  (CFC 3104.181)

–       Fuel systems: Vehicles or equipment shall not be fueled or defueled within a Tent or Membrane structure.  (CFC 3104.18.2)

–       Fuel quantity limit: Fuel in the gasoline tank shall not exceed one-quarter of the tank capacity or 5 gallons, whichever is less. (CFC Sec 3104.18.2.1)

–       Fuel tank openings shall be locked and sealed to prevent the escape of vapors.


  GENERATORS (CFC 3104.19)

  • Generators and other internal combustion power sources shall be separated from Tents and Membrane structures by a minimum of 20 feet and must be isolated from contact with the public by fencing, enclosure or other approved means.
  • Power taps that are attached other than direct connect shall require an Electrical Permit that is issued through the Building Inspection Division.





  • Where required by the Fire Marshal, standby personnel shall be provided.



  • Vegetation Removal: Vegetation shall be removed from the area occupied by a Tent or Membrane structure and from the area within 30 feet of such structures. Combustible materials shall not be stored inside a Tent or Membrane structure, or within 30 feet.  Exception: material treated with flame retardant in an approved manner.
  • Waste Material: Floor surface inside and outside perimeter within 30 feet shall be kept clear of combustible waste. Such waste shall be stored in approved containers until removed from the premise.  (CFC 2404.22)
Close window