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Tents and air-supported structures at events

Tents and air-supported structures

All tents must conform to the Alberta Building Code and the Alberta Fire Code. They must be of sufficient distance from one another to provide an area to be used as an emergency exit. Tents will not cover not more than 75 per cent of the premises, unless otherwise approved by the authority having jurisdiction.

Other tent requirements include:

  • A Building Permit is required for an individual or group of tents  that covers more than 60 square meters (645 square feet) of ground. A tent that covers less than 60 square meters of ground but is within 3 meters of another structure, or contains commercial cooking equipment also requires a Building Permit.
  • Every tent and all tarpaulins and decorative materials used in connection with the structure shall conform to CAN/ULC-S109, “Flame Tests of Flame-Resistant Fabrics and Films.
  • Areas not less than three metres outside the structure must be cleared of all flammable material or vegetation.
  • Combustible materials, such as hay, straw and shavings, will not be permitted within a tent unless approved by the authority having jurisdiction.
  • Portable extinguishers must be provided for the protection of occupants and the building structure.
  • Portable electrical systems and equipment in a tent or air-supported structure, including electrical fuses and switches, must be inaccessible to the public.
  • Smoking and open-flame devices will not be permitted in a tent unless approved by the authority having jurisdiction, and must display signage to indicate designated smoking areas.
  • A fire hydrant must be located within 90 metres driving distance of the principal entrance.
  • No cooking that produces grease/oily vapours will be allowed inside tents without an approved ventilation system.

Fire alarm systems

A fire alarm and emergency communication system plan is required if the tent occupant load is more than 1,000 people, as determined by the onsite fire inspector. Staff must be trained in Fire Safety Plan procedures and test the system to the satisfaction of the fire inspector.

The fire alarm and emergency communication system plan must include provisions for:

  • The activation of the emergency power system for lights and exit signs
  • Stopping all audible and visual activities so voice communications can be activated and heard to instruct the public.
  • A designated person(s) to call emergency services.
  • A “Fire Watch” person must be designated to watch for fires in tents with occupancy loads of more than 1,000 people. This person must be familiar with all fire safety features, including the Fire Safety Plan and the condition of exits. They must patrol the area regularly to ensure that the means of egress (route leading to the exit, the exit, and leading out from the exit) are kept clear.
  • Fire and emergency access to the tent structure will be kept clear and unobstructed at all times. Egress are to be clearly identified, kept clear of obstructions at all times and staff rehearsed on procedures, their roles and responsibilities if an emergency situation should occur.

To request a fire inspection for a tent or tent structure, call 311.

Tent tables and seating

  • Spacing between rows of tables must not be less than 1,400 millimetres wide where seating is arranged back to back.
  • Aisles must not be less than 1,100 millimetres wide.
  • A dead end-aisle must not exceed six metres in width.
  • Aisles will be located so there are not more than seven seats between every seat and the nearest aisle. Exit aisles and corridors are to be kept clear and unobstructed at all times.
  • There should be 400 millimetres of space between rows of seats, and not more than seven seats between every aisle. When the occupant load is greater than 200 people, seats in a row must be fastened together in units of no fewer than eight seats.
  • The distance to exit doors by means of any aisles must not exceed 30 metres if the assembly area does not have a sprinkler system. If a sprinkler system is present, this distance must not exceed 45 metres.

When the Fire Inspector does the measurements for capacity (occupant load) in conjunction with the Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission, and the Building Inspector, the capacity with the least amount will determine the capacity for the event.​​