Tents/Canopies/Temporary Membrane Structures
Permits approved and issued by the Minneapolis Fire Inspections or Minneapolis Construction Code Services are required to erect a canopy, tent, and/or membrane structure for any purpose. All structures shall conform to the structural strength, fire safety, means of egress, accessibility, light, ventilation, and sanitary requirements to ensure public health, safety, and general welfare. Tent/Membrane Structure requirements and authority are under Chapter 31 of the Minnesota State Fire Code. Additional requirements may include a Building Permit, Mechanical Permit, Plumbing Permit, and/or a State of Minnesota Electrical Permit based on the requirements of Section 3103 of the Minnesota State Building Code and the Minnesota Electrical Code.
Air-inflated Structure. A structure that uses air-pressurized membrane beams, arches or other elements to enclosed space. Occupants of such a structure do not occupy the pressurized areas used to support the structure.
Air-supported Structure. A structure wherein the shape of the structure is attained by air pressure, and occupants of the structure are within the elevated pressure area.
Membrane-Covered Frame Structure (Canopy). A non-pressurized building wherein the structure is composed of a rigid framework to support a tensioned membrane which provides the weather barrier.
Membrane-Covered Cable Structure. A non-pressurized structure in which a mast and cable system provides support and tension to the membrane weather barrier and the membrane imparts stability to the structure.
Tent. Any structure, enclosure or shelter, with or without side walls or drops, constructed of fabric or pliable material supported by any manner except by air or contents that it protects.
II. Submittal Requirements
Application and Fees. Permit applications can be obtained and submitted to the Minneapolis Development Review Office at 250 S. 4th Street, Room 300, Minneapolis, MN 55415. Free parking. All fees must be paid at the time of application. Fees: Please refer to the Director’s Fee Schedule available on our website.
Submission Deadlines. Permit application shall be submitted a minimum of five (5) days prior to the date of event in order to avoid additional fees.
Inspections. A site inspection prior to the event may be required after the structure(s) have been erected, and all of the interior components set-up or erected, to ensure compliance with all regulations.
Permits. Tents and membrane structures intended to be erected for less than 180 days shall comply with the Minnesota State Fire Code and require a Special Event Permit from Fire Inspection Services which requires completion of items A-G below.
The following conditions also require a building permit even when erected for less than 180 days:
1. Structures erected on buildings, balconies, decks, raised floor systems or other structures
2. Store-front system
3. Solid wall panels
4. Thermal roof structure
5. Tents and other membrane structures exceeding 120 square feet.
You may be required to submit plans bearing the stamp/signature of a Minnesota licensed architect or civil engineer and a signed statement certifying that the tent installation is in compliance with NFPA code requirements.
A separate Special Event Permit Application is required for each of the following: Fireworks, Bonfires, LP Tanks, or Open Flames, for example.
Additional permits such as Mechanical Permit, Plumbing Permit, and/or a State of Minnesota Electrical Permit may be required. It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain all required City permits.
Accessibility, parking, seating, signage, ingress and egress for people with disabilities shall be in compliance with Chapter 1341 of the Minnesota State Building Code.
Depending on the size and complexity of the structure, a fire watch may be required. The requirement for a fire watch is determined by the Minneapolis Fire Inspections Department.
Include the following (1 - 7) with your Special Event Permit Application:
1. Drawing Information Requirements. Attach a CAD site plan drawn to a minimum 1/8 inch scale with symbol legend and compass. Electronic media documents are allowed to be submitted. A minimum of three sets of plans shall be submitted for review and approval. All documents shall be of sufficient clarity to indicate the following:
A. Plot plan showing boundaries of the property, location and dimensions of the tent on the property, location and distance to the nearest fire hydrant.
B. Location of all buildings, structures, dumpsters, signs, surface materials and temporary food apparatus, i.e., food trucks, in the vicinity, as applicable.
C. Temporary fence and/or wall perimeters including height and type, ingress and egress checkpoints, dimensions, openings, aisles, and exit routes to the public way including overhead pedestrian walkways.
D. Street closures/barricades.
E. Specific areas for parking of vehicles.
F. The location, size, and intended use of all tents and temporary membrane structures, including vendor tents, booths, tables, displays, music venues, seating and standing room only (SRO)-capacities, stages and staging area(s).
G. The location and number of cooking tents.
a. Any cooking operation conducted requires an exhaust hood and fire extinguisher.
b. A minimum 20 foot separation is required from other tents and membrane structures.
c. Outdoor cooking operations that produce sparks or grease-laden vapors must be located a minimum of 20 feet from other tents and membrane structures.
d. 20 Foot Exception: Distances may be reduced upon review and approval from the Fire Inspection Services Manager or designee.
H. Detailed or scaled floor plans for tents or membrane structures having an occupant load of 50 or more shall indicate the following:
a. Locations and dimensions of tables
b. Proposed seating arrangements and standing room only areas. Includeseating capacity, maximum seating in each section, and aggregate seating at any one time
c. Locations and type of all other interior obstacles (stages, furnishings, etc.)
d. Locations and dimensions of exits
e. Details of the means of egress; Locations of all emergency exit pathways shall be maintained at all times. Means of egress shall meet Chapter 3103.12.2 Minnesota State Fire Code
f. Locations and type of exit signs; Exit signs shall be provided in accordance with the Minnesota State Fire Code
g. Locations and type of emergency lighting, including proposed power source(s)
h. Locations of portable fire extinguishers
i. Type of floor surface proposed
I. Location and type of heating and electrical equipment; Electrical plans must show the power source, layout of lighting and power cords.
J. The change in grade for a minimum of 20 feet around perimeter of temporary structures or assembly areas (whichever is greater) in any exit route to the public way.
K. Location and width of all fire apparatus emergency ingress and egress roadways.
L. Locations of any additional emergency equipment such as generators, electrical power or emergency power supplies if required.
M. Locations, types, and sizes of fire extinguishers. Properly tagged fire extinguishers must be placed in each tent. Proper signage must be verified. Fire extinguishers types include the following:
a. Class ABC for ordinary combustible
b. Minimum sizes 10A-60BC for ordinary hazard combustibles
c. 40 lb. Class-K for deep fry units
N. Signed and stamped specifications and drawings for bleachers, platforms, risers, and performance areas, including occupancy, loads, and structural details for all imposed loads and anchorage points, if applicable.
2. Structural, Wind-uplift, Fire Resistance, Flame Spread and Smoke Data for Each Tent or Membrane Structures Requirements. Submit the following:
A. Snow-load data
B. Fire resistance, flame and smoke spread/development data
C. Wind-uplift data
3. Material Safety Data Sheets, as applicable.
4. Severe Emergency Weather Plan Requirements. Provide the following:
A. Emergency action plans for severe weather
B. EMS action plan
C. Fire action plan
D. Sheltering in place for all exterior and interior venues
E. Standard protocols for Internal venues follow standard protocols
5. Utility Plans Required.
A. Identify all utility power supplies and/or electrical services, disconnects, grounded. GFCI protection is required on all 110 volt circuits, including lighting.
B. Identify generator installation and grounding
C. Emergency exit lighting is required in any an enclosed areas having an occupant load of 50 or more occupants.
D. Extension cords shall be properly sized, trip hazard protection, and intact 3-prong plug on each end. Connections shall be made above grade and protected.
E. State electrical permit(s) required.
6. Ushering and Security Training and Procedure Manual(s) Requirements. Provide the following:
A. Procedures for handling overflow, overcrowding and maintaining exits
B. Maximum attendance, maximum number seated and maximum standing room only
C. Protocols for additional temporary or folding chairs; Indicate how many additional chairs
D. Security procedures, timeframes and staff
E. Handling procedures and protocols for Emergency Medical Situations (EMS)
F. Procedures and protocols for Fire and EMS notifications.
7. Commercial Recycling Plans Required. Provide compliance details complying with the City of Minneapolis Code of Ordinance 174.435 which requires convenient sites for the deposit, collection and hauling of all recyclable materials.
III. Code Requirements
Areas Without Fixed Seating. The number of occupants shall be computed at the rate of one occupant per unit of area as prescribed in Table 1004.1.2 of the Minnesota State Building Code. For areas without fixed seating, the occupant load shall not be less than the number determined by dividing the floor area under consideration by the occupancy as set in Table 1004.1.2. Where an intended use is not listed in Table 1004.1.2, the Fire Inspection Division shall determine the square footage factor to be used to calculate the occupant load.
Table 1004.1.2 – Assembly Areas without Fixed Seating
Concentrated (chairs only): 7 net
Standing Space: 5 net
Concentrated (tables and chairs): 15 net
Anchorage Required. Tents or membrane structures and their appurtenances shall be adequately roped, braced, and anchored to withstand the elements of weather and prevent against collapsing.
Combustible Materials. Hay, straw, shavings, or similar combustible materials shall not be located within the tent or temporary membrane structure containing an assembly occupancy, except the materials necessary for the daily feeding and care of animals. Sawdust and shavings utilized for the public performance or exhibit shall not be prohibited, provided the sawdust and shavings are kept damp. Combustible materials shall not be permitted under stands of seats at any time.
Compressed Gas Cylinders. All compressed gas cylinders shall be nested, secured and protected against tampering.
Display of Motor Vehicles. The display of motor vehicles shall be in accordance with the following:
1. Batteries shall be disconnected in an appropriate manner.
2. Vehicles or equipment shall not be fueled or defueled within the tent, or membrane structure.
3. Fuel in the fuel tank shall not exceed one-quarter of the tank capacity or 5 gallons, whichever is less.
4. Fuel systems shall be inspected for leaks.
5. Fuel tank openings shall be locked and sealed to prevent the escape of vapors.
6. The location of vehicles or equipment shall not obstruct means of egress.
7. When a compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LP-gas) powered vehicle is parked inside a place of assembly, all the following conditions shall be met:
A. The quarter-turn shutoff valve or other shutoff valve on the outlet of the CNG of LP-gas container shall be closed and the engine shall be operated until it stops. Valves shall remain closed while the vehicle is indoors.
B. The hot lead of the battery shall be disconnected.
C. Dual fuel vehicles equipped to operate on gasoline and CNG or LP gas shall comply with this section and sections CFC, Chapter 24 for gasoline powered vehicles.
8. Liquid and gas fueled vehicles and equipment used for competition or demonstration within a tent or temporary membrane structure shall comply with the following:
A. Fuel for vehicles or equipment shall be stored in approved containers in an approved location outside of the structure no less than 50 feet from tents or canopies.
B. Refueling shall be performed outside of the structure no less than 20 feet from tent or canopies.
C. Fuel spills shall be cleaned up immediately.
Doors: Exit doors shall swing in the direction of exit travel.
Exit Signs. Exit signs 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.
Exit Sign Illumination. Exit signs shall be either listed and labeled 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 separated from all other circuits, for occupant loads of 300 or less; or
2. Two separate sources or 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 onsite generator set, and system shall be installed in accordance with the Minnesota Electrical Code. The emergency system provided shall have a minimum of duration of 90 minutes when operated at full design demand.
Flame Resistance. All tents manufactured for sale, sold, rented, offered for sale, or used in Minnesota shall be made from non-flammable material or one of the following flame-resistant fabrics or materials approved by the State Fire Marshal. Tents and Membrane structures shall have a permanently affixed label bearing the identification of size fabric or material type. A certificate of flame resistance/retardant are often included with the tent or can be obtained from the manufacturer.
1. Fabrics complying with the State Fire Marshal’s requirements for flame resistance for exterior use.
2. Fabrics complying with the flame-resistance required set forth in CPAI-84 (A Specification for Flame Resistance Materials Used in Camping Tentage).
Flammable and Combustible Liquids. The storage of flammable and combustible liquids and the use of flammable-liquid-fueled equipment shall comply with the following:
1. Use: Flammable-liquid-fueled equipment shall not be used in tent or membrane structures.
2. Flammable and combustible liquid storage: Flammable and combustible liquids shall be stored outside in an approved manner not less than 10 feet from tents and temporary membrane structures or any ignition source.
3. Refueling: Refueling shall be performed in an approved location not less than 20 feet from tents and membrane structures.
Generators. Generators and other internal combustion power sources shall be separated from tents or temporary membrane structures by a minimum of 20 feet and shall be isolated from contact with the public by fencing, enclosure, or other approved means. The generator and electrical shall be in accordance with the following:
1. System shall be isolated from the public by fencing, or other approved method.
2. All electrical controls, breakers, fuses and switches must be enclosed in approved enclosures.
3. All electrical systems must be properly grounded.
4. Extension cords shall be of a grounded type, and approved for exterior use. Extension cords on the ground or in areas traveled by the public must be placed in trenches or protected by approved covers (i.e., electrical bridges).
5. Generators shall not be refueled during event hours. Extra fuel shall not be stored during event hours.
6. Smoking and open flames shall be prohibited within 25 feet of refueling operations.
7. Each generator shall be provided with a fire extinguisher with a minimum 40B:C rating. The extinguisher shall be located near the generator and accessible at all times.
Heating and Cooking Equipment. Heating and cooking equipment shall be in accordance with the following sections:
1. Installation: Heating or cooling equipment, tanks, piping hoses, fittings, valves, tubing, and other related components shall be installed as specified in the Minnesota Building/Mechanical Code.
2. Venting: Gas, liquid and solid fuel burning equipment designed to be vented shall be vented to the outside air as specified in the Minnesota Building/Mechanical Code. Where vents or flues are used, all portions of the tent or temporary membrane structure shall be not less than 12 inches from the flue or vent.
3. Location: Cooking and heating equipment shall not be located within 10 feet of exits or combustible material.
4. Operations: Operations such as warming of foods, cooking demonstrations and similar operations that use solid flammables, butane or other similar devices which do not pose an ignition hazard, shall be approved.
5. Cooking tents: Tents where cooking is performed shall be separated from other tents and temporary membrane structures by a minimum of 20 feet.
6. Outdoor cooking: Outdoor cooking that produces sparks or grease laden vapors shall not be performed within 20 feet of a tent or temporary membrane structure.
7. Electrical heating and cooking equipment: Electrical cooking and heating equipment shall comply with the Minnesota Electrical Code.
Maintenance of Means of Egress. The required width of exits, aisles, and passageways shall be maintained at all times to a public way, or safe dispersal area. Guide wires, guide ropes, 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.
Means of Egress Illumination. Means of egress shall be illuminated with light having an intensity of not less than 1 foot candle 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. Means of egress illumination shall be provided for 50 or more persons.
Membrane Structures on Buildings. Membrane structures that are erected on buildings, balconies, decks or other structures shall be regulated as permanent membrane structure in accordance with Section 3102 of the Minnesota State Building Code.
Posting of Occupant Load. Every room or space that is assembly occupancy shall have that occupant load of the room posted in a conspicuous place.
Open Flames. 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 20 feet of the tent or temporary membrane structure while open to the public unless approved.
Portable Fire Extinguishers. Provide one minimum 2A:10B:C fire extinguisher every 75 feet of travel distance. The top portion of the portable fire extinguishers shall be mounted between 3 and 5 feet above the floor. All fire extinguishers shall be serviced and tagged annually by a licensed contractor.
Pyrotechnic Displays. Fireworks or special effects shall not be used within 100 feet of tents and temporary membrane structures. A separate Special Event Permit application is required to be submitted.
Seating Arrangements. Seating in tents or other membrane structures shall be in accordance with Chapter 10 of the Minnesota State Fire Code. Detailed plans shall be incorporated into all submittals.
Table 3103.12.2 - Minimum Number of Means of Egress and Means of Egress Widths from Temporary Membrane Structures and Tents
Number of Means of Egress
Minimum Width of Each Means of Egress (inches)
Tent or Canopy
10 to 199
200 to 499
500 to 999
1,000 to 1,999
2,000 to 2,999
When the occupant load exceeds 3,000, the total width of the means of egress (inches) shall not be less than the total occupant load multiplied by 0.2 inches per person.
Setup and Teardown.
1. Permits must be obtained by installing contractor
2. Identify installers, State License numbers
3. Post Start and End Dates
4. Display Permit Holder Information
Smoking. Smoking shall not be permitted in tents or temporary membrane structures. Approved “NO SMOKING” signs shall be conspicuously posted throughout the structure.
Spot Lighting. Spot or effect lighting shall only be by electricity, and all combustible construction located within 6 feet of such equipment shall be protected with approved noncombustible insulation not less than 9.25 inches thick.
Standby Personnel. When, in the opinion of the Fire Inspections Division, it is essential for public safety in a tent or temporary membrane structure used as a place of assembly or any other use where people congregate, because of the number of persons, or the nature of the performance, exhibition, display, contest or activity, the owner, agent, or lessee shall employ one or more qualified persons, as required and approved, to remain on duty during the times such places are open to the public, or when such activity is being conducted.
1. Before each performance or the start of such activity, standby personnel shall keep diligent watch for fires during the time such place is open to the public or such activity is being conducted and take prompt measures for extinguishment of fires that occur and assist in the evacuation of the public from the structure.
2. There shall be trained crowd managers or crowd manager supervisors at a ratio of one crowd manager/supervisor for every 250 occupants.
Vegetation Removal. Combustible vegetation shall be removed from the area occupied by a tent or temporary membrane structure, and from areas within 50 feet of such structure.
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Last updated Oct 31, 2017