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.  
Ryan Brickman - SRM Associate Director (406-994-7760) [email protected]
Chris Salter - Fire Marshal (406-994-7583) [email protected]

Inflatables and/or air supported structures:
In all cases, regardless of size, tents must be secured for windload.  A review of the air support system for the structure by the MSU Fire Marshall is required.

Special Events Review

To download and view the Special Events Review document, please click anywhere in this box.

Please send all requests for a Special Events Review to [email protected].

All reviews will require an onsite inspection prior to the event occuring.


Frequently Asked Questions:


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).

An air-inflated, air-supported, cable or frame-covered structure. This includes bounce houses, inflatable rides, games, and slides. (IFC 3103.10).

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

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. 

We ask that you provide your documents minimum of 14 business days prior to the event. Site reviews typically take 30 minutes depending on the size of the event  and what the event will entail.

Events with 1,000 or more people have increased egress, written emergency plans, weather monitoring, and crowd control requirements. (IFC  3106.4.1 Public safety plan; 3106.4.2 Weather monitoring person; 3106.4.3 Crowd managers).

Fireworks shall not be used within 100 feet of tents or membrane structures. ( IFC 3107.5) Tents are not fire proof even when they are treated with a flame spread treatment.

A public safety plan shall be prepared where an adverse impact on public safety through diminished access to buildings, structures, fire hydrants and fire apparatus access roads or where such gatherings adversely affect public safety services of any kind.

(IFC 3106.4.1). Events should be fun for those involved, as well as provide safe environments. The public has an expectation and a right to be safe at all public and private events.  Your plan shall cover the following:

Emergency vehicle ingress and egress.

Fire protection.

Emergency egress or escape routes.

Emergency medical services.

Public assembly areas.

The directing of both attendees and vehicles, including the parking of vehicles.

Vendor and food concession distribution.

The need for the presence of law enforcement.

The need for fire and emergency medical services personnel.

The need for a weather monitoring person.

The tent cannot block any fire hydrants or fire department connections. (IFC 3106.2.3.1 & 507.5.5)

Means of egress is what people would use to identify an exit and ultimalty exit a structure for event (exit openings, egress illumination, aisles, etc.) . Temporary tents and membrane structures still fall under this all of the normal requirements for egress under the International Fire Code (IFC 3103.12) and International Building Code (Chapter 10). Below are a couple of the highlights:

Exit doors (if any) shall swing in the direction of exit travel when occupancy could be over 50 people. TABLE 1006.2.1

Curtains shall be of a color, or colors, that contrasts with the color of the tent (IFC 3103.12.3)

The adequate number of exits must be maintained. Occupant load of 10-199 people requires two exits, occupant load over 200 people requires three exits. Provide means of egress illumination. (IFC 3103.12.7)

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 where the exit serves an occupant load of 50 or more (IFC 3103.12.6 ). Exit signs shall be either listed and labeled in accordance with UL 924 or shall be externally illuminated by:

- Two separate circuits for occupant loads of 300 or less


- Two separate sources of emergency power systems shall be supplied from storage batteries or from the on-site generators capable of supplying minimum duration of 90 minutes at full demand. (IFC 3103.12.6.1

The width of the exit that needs to be maintained is determined by the below table. The more people you have in the tent the wider the exit will be.

Means of Egress

Tents and/or inflatables have a large enough surface that it does not take a lot of load before they are blowing away from where they were set up. The manufacture has a specific design and rating they have approved/proved through testing. Any method outside of the manufactures engineering requirement will require a structural engineer to support the use/set up. Documentation of structural stability (i.e. staking and bracing documentation and justification). The staking , wind load rating anchoring  requirements are regulated with Architectural Fabric Structures Institute FSAAS (IFC 3103.10.2 & IFC 3103.9).  All tents and/or membrane structures are to be adequately anchored to withstand the weather conditions and to prevent  collapse.  Bozeman regularly has sustained winds speed of 35 miles per hour.

                           Pullout Capacity Tent Stakes


Pullout Capacity Tent Stakes Est

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).

Fire lanes shall not be blocked. IFC 3103.8.1

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)


Generators shall be a minimum of 20 feet from tents. IFC 3104.19.

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

This depends on how far from the tent the generator is.

  • Refueling of flammable liquid-fueled equipment shall be done a minimum of 20 feet from tents. IFC 3104.17.3
  • Flammable/Combustible liquids shall be stored outside in an approved manner a minimum of 50 feet from tents. IFC 3104.17.2
  • LP-gas containers less than 500 gallons shall be a minimum of 10 feet from tents. LP-gas containers greater than 500 gallons shall be a minimum of 25 feet from tents. IFC 3104.16.2.1

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).