Environmental Health and Safety

Campus Tent & Canopy Use Requirement


SUNY New Paltz strives to keep all students, staff and visitors safe while at our campus. To that end, we have summarized requirements for tents and canopies, as required by the Fire Code of NYS v2015.



Campus Personnel- are obligated to submit the permit application 2 weeks prior to erection of tent and should be directed to Scott Schulte, x2387 or Michael Malloy, x2385.


Code Enforcement Official (CEO)- reviews construction documents; has authority to approve or disapprove a permit; performs safety inspections; has stop work /closure authority given by the State of NY per the NYS Fire Prevention and Building Code.



Canopy- a structure, enclosure or shelter constructed of fabric or pliable materials supported by any manner, except by air or the contents it protects, and is open without side walls or drops on 75 percent or more of the perimeter.


Permit- a written document prepared by the CEO issued to Campus Personnel to allow the set up and use of a tent or canopy for a specified amount of time. Permits may be revoked if permit conditions are not followed.


Tent- a structure, enclosure or shelter constructed of fabric or pliable materials supported by any manner, except by air or the contents it protects.



Permit requirement- is required for tents and canopies >400 square feet. Structures shall not be erected prior to obtaining a permit.


Construction documents- a detailed site and floor plan for tents and canopies with an occupancy load of 50 or more shall be provided with each application for approval. The floor plan shall include details of means of egress facilities, seating capacity, arrangement of the seating and location and type of heating and electrical equipment.


Inspections- Tent and canopies shall be inspected prior to occupancy & use. Tents in use for 30 days or more shall be re-inspected bi-weekly.


Inspection report- An inspection report will be generated by the CEO.


Location- Tents and canopies must not be located within 50 feet of: lot lines, buildings, other tents and canopies, parked vehicles or other internal combustion engines. For the purposes of required distances, support ropes and guy wires shall be considered as part of the tent or canopy.


Connecting corridors- Tents may have connecting corridors provided they are equipped with at least 2 exit doors.


Fire Break- On all sides of tent or canopy, there must be an unobstructed passageway or fire road not less than 12 feet wide free from guy wires, ropes and other obstructions to allow for fire department access unless approved by CEO.


Anchorage required- Tents and canopies shall be adequately roped, braced and anchored to withstand the elements of weather and prevent against collapsing. Documentation of structural stability shall be furnished to the CEO on request. If tent stakes or pins will be driven into the ground for stability, NYS law requires that you contact Dig Safely NY (811) prior to insertion of tent stakes or pins. Sand bags, Water barrels, and cement is also an option but it must be appropriately anchored for wind and weather elements.


Seating arrangements- Shall be in accordance with Chapter 10 (means of egress) of the Fire Code of NYS.


Means of egress- Exits shall be spaced at approximately equal intervals around the perimeter of the tent or canopy, and shall be located such that all points are 100 feet or less from an exit. The number of exits varies depending on the number of occupants.


Tents or canopies shall have at least one exit and not less than the number of exits required by Table F3103.12.2. The total width of means of egress in inches (mm) shall not be less than the total occupant load served by a means of egress multiplied by 0.2 inches (5 mm) per person.

Exits shall remain open (uncovered) unless curtain material is flame resistant. Curtain MUST be a color than contrasts the color of the tent. Doors shall swing in the direction of exit travel (outward).




Occupant Load

Minimum Number of Means od Egress

Minimum Width of Each Means of Egress (inches) in Tent or Canopy

10 to 199



200 to 499



500 to 999




Exits 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.  These shall be obtained by persons obtaining permit through rental company or on line purchase by using department.


Aisle Width- In public areas, unobstructed aisles having a minimum width of not less than 44 inches shall be provided from seating areas, and aisles shall be progressively increased in width to provide, at all points, not less than 1 foot of aisle width for each 50 persons served by such aisle at that point.  In employee only areas (cooking tent/canopy) minimum width is 24 inches.


Egress areas must be illuminated where lighting and/or visibility is diminished (after dusk, no outside light, etc.).  Exits, exit passageways and aisle space must be maintained.


Flame propagation treatment- prior to permit issuance, the contractor shall furnish CEO a certificate of documentation that the tent, canopy, sidewalls, floor coverings, etc. meet the flame propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701 or shall be treated with a flame retardant within 5 years of use (documentation required).


Certification- An affidavit or affirmation will be submitted to the CEO and a copy retained on the premises on which the tent/canopy is located. The affidavit shall attest to the following information relative to the flame propagation performance criteria of the fabric:


  1. Names and address of the owners of the tent, canopy or air-supported
  2. Date the fabric was last treated with flame-retardant solution.
  3. Name of testing agency and test standard by which the fabric was tested




Combustible materials- Hay, straw, shavings or similar combustible materials shall not be allowed in any tent or canopy containing assembly occupancy, except the materials necessary for the daily feeding and care of animals. Sawdust and shavings utilized for a public performance or exhibit shall not be prohibited provided the sawdust and shavings are kept damp. Combustible materials shall not be permitted under stands or seats at any time. The areas within and adjacent to the tent or air-supported structure shall be maintained clear of all combustible materials or vegetation that could create a fire hazard within 20 feet (6096 mm) of the structure. Combustible trash shall be removed at least once a day from the structure during the period the structure is occupied by the public.


Smoking- smoking is not permitted in tents or canopies.  “No Smoking” signs shall be posted. Smoking is not permitted within 50 feet of tents or canopies.


Open or exposed flame- 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 canopy.


Clearance- There must be a minimum clearance of at least 3 feet between the fabric envelope and all contents located inside the tent.


Portable fire extinguishers- Minimum 10 lb ABC portable fire extinguishers shall be provided as required by the Fire Code.  Environmental Health and Safety will provide extinguishers upon request.


Occupant load factors- The number of occupants shall not exceed those allowed in chapter 10 of the fire code of NYS and is based on size of tent/canopy and what setting is (e.g. standing only vs. table and chairs). An occupancy load sign shall be displayed in a conspicuous place near the main exit.


Cooking tents/canopies- shall be at least 50 feet away from other tents. Similarly, outdoor cooking that produces sparks, flames or grease laden vapors must be separated from other tents by 50 feet. Liquid fuel shall not be used in tents or canopies.


Liquid propane gas (LPG)- may be used but tanks must be located outside the tent/canopy and separated by at least 20 feet (500 gallons propane or less) from the structure. Additionally, the tank(s) must be protected against traffic and tampering and must be secured in place to prevent movement (not freestanding).


Generators- Generators shall be located at least 30 feet away from the tent or canopy.




Fire Code of New York State, 2015


SUNY New Paltz tent inspection form




Tent Use Application