Tents are often used to define your event and to provide assurance your event can go on despite what Mother Nature may throw at you. We provide the information below to help guide you through the considerations necessary to ensure a safe and compliant venue and tent set up.

Tent Size – the size and layout of your tent(s) will determine the level of safety and compliance that need to be met.  In all cases, regardless of size, tents must be secured for windload.

  • Under 400 square feet:

    In general tents under 400 square feet are allowed provided they are secured for windload.  No inspection or additional equipment/considerations required.
  • 400 square feet or larger:

    Tents 400 square feet or larger are subject to inspection by the MSU Fire Marshal prior to the event occurring. This includes multiple tent set ups totaling 400 square feet or more spaced less than 12 feet apart. 

In general tents 400 square feet or larger must be structurally engineered and installed to withstand rain and wind load, have a fire rated canopy, have fire extinguishers available in the structure, and have designated and signed egress routes.

Tent Amenities:

Additional safety and compliance considerations will be required if your tent has sidewalls, chairs/tables, stage, food preparation, heaters, or portable generators. Please check with Safety and Risk Management for additional details on requirements.  

Temporary tents and other membrane structures erected for a period of less than 180 days (2012 IFC Section 3103.1). 

Enclosed tents 400 square feet and greater, open 700 square feet or greater. (IFC 3103.2.2.1).

As long as the aggregate quantity in under 700 square feet and/or a 12 foot fire break is maintain (IFC 3103.2.3).

Tents used exclusively for recreational camping purposes do not need to be reviewed within this process. (IFC 3103.2[1]).

All tents, membrane structures and their appurtenances are to be flame retardant meeting NFPA 701 requirements (IFC 3104.2).  Flame resistant certificate is required from an acceptable testing laboratory. Specific Requirements: No smoking, no fireworks, no open flames or devices emitting open flame, fire or heat will be used in the tent/canopy.  Below are two examples of a flame retardant certification.

           Cert Flame Resistance     Reg Flame Retardant

Tents shall not be located within 20 feet of lot lines, buildings, other tents or membrane structures, parked vehicles, internal combustion engines or generators. (IFC 3103.8.2).

Tents shall not be located within 20 feet of parked vehicles, internal combustion engines or generators. (IFC 3103.8.2).

Cooking and heating equipment shall not be located within 10 feet of exits or combustible materials. Cooking equipment that produces sparks or grease-laden vapors shall not be performed within 20 feet of a occupied tent or membrane structure. (IFC 3104.15.3  & 3104.15.5)


Designated cooking tents not occupied by the public that have been approved. Cooking equipment using combustible oils or solids shall meet the following:

  1. A noncombustible lid shall be immediately available. The lid shall be of sufficient size to cover the cooking area completely.
  2. The equipment shall be placed on a noncombustible surface.
  3. An approved portable fire extinguisher for protection from cooking grease fires shall be provided.

(IFC 3106.5.2)

All outside electrical receptacles or receptacles in a tent shall be GFCI protected per National Electrical Code 2014.

All tents and membrane structures are to be clearly posted with “No Smoking” signs (IFC 3104.6).


2A:10BC fire extinguisher(s) mounted no higher than 48” above finished floor to the handle. One extinguisher if under 1000 ft² and one extinguisher per additional 2000 ft² or fraction thereof. Provide portable ABC fire extinguishers to be in conspicuous locations and be mounted. 2A10BC rating (IFC 906.1).

The City of Bozeman has differed the processing and review of temporary tents within the boundaries of Montana State University Properties to MSU Facility Services.