It’s Party Time!
Graduations, religious celebrations, milestone birthdays and weddings are all special occasions that are worthy of all the festivity. With summer here, outdoor parties are becoming more prevalent and tents are popping up everywhere (pardon that) to protect guests from the sun and rain.

Given that, our attention turns to the safety of your guests. One can only imagine the wide range of horrifying events that can occur when a large number of youngsters and adults gather under a canvas sheet and a fire breaks out . Each of these events could be exacerbated when the tent itself simply isn’t safe.

When Are Inspections Required?
The question of the day: What is the difference between a 20 by 40 foot with 100 guests on Woodward Avenue and a 20 by 40 foot tent with 100 guests on one of our residential properties? In the big scheme of things, there is no difference. However, the Department of Building Safety requires a permit and inspects the Woodward Avenue tent to make sure it meets safety standards while no permit is required for the residential tent.

To provide a higher level of service to our residents, we are now offering a free residential tent inspection to assure the safety of your guests. The process is simple:
  • Complete the inspection request form at least 3 days in advance of the tent installation.
  • On the day of the inspection we will follow our checklist and mark items as “meets standards” or “ needs attention”.
  • A copy of the checklist will be given to the homeowner or representative of the tent company and that person will acknowledge receipt by signing our copy.
  • No further inspections or action on our behalf are required.
The request form and the list of safety standards we follow are available at our front counter or online. Take this 1 extra step and make sure the tent company you hire lives up to industry and code standards to assure the safety of your guests .

Code Compliance
In accordance with the City Code of Ordinances, the International Fire Code (2003), the Michigan Building Code, NFPA 102 and NFPA 701 temporary tents, canopies, air-supported, air-inflated or tensioned membrane structures shall comply with the provisions of this regulation. (Temporary is not more than 180 days). Other provisions may be required for permanent structures.

A permit is required. Tents and membrane structures having an area in excess of 200 square feet and canopies in excess of 400 square feet shall not be erected, operated or maintained for any purpose without first obtaining a permit (2403.4) and approval from the code official (2403.2).

  • Tents used exclusively for recreational camping purposes.
  • Fabric canopies and awnings open on all sides which comply with the following:
    • Individual canopies having a maximum size of 700 square feet.
    • The aggregate area of multiple canopies placed side by side without a fire break clearance of 12 feet not exceeding 700 square feet total.
    • A minimum clearance of 12 feet to all structures and other tents.
Permit Information
Permits are issued by the City Building Department. The Building Official and/or the Fire Inspector require plan review and approval.

Construction Documents
A detailed site and floor plan for tents, canopies, air-supported, air-inflated or tensioned membrane structures with an occupant load of 50 or more shall be provided with each application for approval (2403.6). The floor plan shall indicate details of the means of egress (2403.12.2), occupant load, arrangement of the seating and location and type of any heating, food preparation and electrical equipment. The site plan shall indicate the location of the structure on the property, distances to lot lines, buildings, other temporary structures and parked vehicles. The temporary structure shall be no closer than 20 feet to the aforementioned (some exceptions may apply).

Access to the site, fire lanes and fire hydrants shall be indicated on the site plan. Fire lanes shall be a minimum 20 feet in width and maintained free of obstructions. Fire hydrants shall have a minimum, unobstructed clearance of 20 feet on all sides with clear access to 1 side from a fire lane. (2403.8)

Inspection of the facility is required prior to use. (2403)