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Tents & Canopies

This process is aimed at increasing the safe use of tents on campus.

The Bureau of Capital Outlay Management specifies a permit for the installation of tents on State property (BCOM form CO-17A). The Building Code further clarifies that a permit is required for all tents that exceed an area of 120 square feet (10' by 12') if ten or more people will be gathered inside of the area covered by the tent's canopy. There are specific requirements for a site plan showing the location of the tent in relation to other buildings, a plan for the means of egress and a certification of flame resistance. In addition, at least one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating is also required.

Facilities Management will be responsible for issuing the tent permit and collecting the required information. The existing Annual Permit process will be the mechanism for issuing a tent permit. The customer will need to submit a work request indicating the need for a tent in support of a specific event, including size, location, maximum occupancy, dates involved and responsible person. The FM Work Control Center will identify the need for a tent permit and forward the information to FM Engineering. If the tent is one that currently belongs to JMU, the condition and flame resistance will be verified, along with the installation location and a permit will be issued. If the tent is being rented for installation on State property, the tent permit and the initiating work request, are still necessary. In this case, the rental agency must provide/verify the condition and flame resistance.

This minor additional inconvenience will help to improve the safety of tents installed at/by JMU and is effective immediately. Thank you for your assistance.

Facilities Management, MSC 7001
TEL: 540/568-6181 FAX: 540/568-6026

I understand your situation. If the tent or canopy (cover over buffet lines) is over 120 square feet in area and there will be ten or more persons under it, then a permit is required. However, there are some things that can be done to minimize approval time:

  1. Rentex, or any other supplier of temporary structures, must provide a document that shows that their structure(s) is either made of approved noncombustible material as defined by section 704.4 of the BOCA National Building Code, is made of flame resistant material as defined by NFPA 701, or its material is treated in a approved manner to render it flame resistant. Either of the first two requirements can be met by providing a copy of the tag on the tent itself, which must also show the tent ID. The third option requires additional certification, date of treatment, type of chemical used, etc.. Most current tents will be made of flame resistant material in accordance with NFPA 701, and will be tagged as such.

  2. The structure/tent must be installed more than 15 feet from any other building.

  3. At least one fire extinguisher with a minimum 4-A rating must be provided for each structure.

  4. The permit application must be filled out prior to erection of the structure. I will FAX you a copy of this form. You will need to complete the form for each tent and attach a site plan (simple sketch showing the general location of the tent and distance from surrounding buildings), attach a simple floor plan that shows furnishings (tables, chairs, etc.) and available exits, then attach a copy of the flame resistance rating information.

  5. If you fill out the form, attach the necessary sketches and flame resistance certification (which you can have on file, but it must match the tent being used), FAX a copy to Public Safety (Alan can provide a name/title for receipt) and to Mike Davis (X3547), then give Mike a call (at home if after hours), he can approve the permit.

This sounds like a lot, but once you see the form, get a copy of tent ratings for your file and have the proper fire extinguishers available, it should go very rapidly.

JMU Division of Administration and Finance James Madison University Website