Seattle Fire Department Harold Scoggins, Fire Chief
About Us|Contact Us
Seattle Fire Department Web Site Header bottom graphic   Home > Fire Marshal's Office > Special Events > FAQ
Department Information
Public Education
Fire Prevention
- Fire Marshal's Office
- Seattle Fire Code
- Special Events
- Permits
- Construction Inspections & Plan Review
- Systems Testing
- High-Rise Inspections
- Certification Training
- Fire Prevention Alerts
- Client Assistance Memos
Medic One
Photo Gallery
Site Map

Special Events FAQ

Below is a listing of Frequently Asked Questions regarding topics which the Seattle Fire Marshal's Special Events Section commonly receives.

This FAQ is available for download in PDF file format:
Special Events - Frequently Asked Questions.pdf

When do I need to get a Temporary Assembly Occupancy permit?

When you are operating a carnival, fair or festival. When the venue in which your event takes place does not already have a valid permit for Assembly Occupancy issued by the Seattle Fire Department. When the venue in which your event takes place has a valid Assembly Occupancy permit but there is a temporary change of use or type, a temporary change in type of activity, a temporary increase in occupancy load, a temporary change in routes of exit from the venue, or a temporary introduction of an additional hazard, (e.g. candles, display of vehicles, performances that include pyrotechnics or fire.)

How do I get a permit application?

You may obtain a permit application in person by coming down to 220 3rd Avenue South (Seattle Fire Department's Fire Prevention Building) or; you may call the Fire Marshal's Office at (206) 386-1450 and request the Permit Section mail or fax an application to you. The Fire Marshal's Office is open, Monday -Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Also see:  Permit Application Fees)

Note: Inspectors will not collect permit fees or applications in the field.

When do I need a tent permit?

A permit is required from the Seattle Fire Department for a tent, canopy or air-supported structure in excess of 400 square feet.  

Note:  A tent/canopy open on all sides (roof only) are not required to get a permit issued by the Seattle Fire department if it meets all of the following conditions:

          a)   Individual maximum size of 700 square feet.

          b)   Aggregate area of multiple tents placed side by side less than 12  feet apart is 700 square feet or less.

           c)   Minimum of 12 feet clearance between the tent and any structure.

In addition to the above information, tents or air supported structures in excess of 100 square feet erected inside a building equipped with an automatic sprinkler system require approval from the Seattle Fire Department.

(For more information regarding Tent Permit Procedures See: Tent & Canopy Permit Procedures)

What kind of heater can I use in my tent?

If the tent/air-supported structure is heated and the power source for the heater is anything other than electric, an additional Seattle Fire Department permit is required.  Only electric heaters are allowed inside the tent. All other heaters’ fuel source must be on the exterior of the tent.  Generally, in the case of propane heaters the propane must be a minimum10 feet away from the tent and required


I need more propane for my cooking operation than my permit allows.  What can I do?

Call the Fire Marshal's Office at (206) 386-1450 and request to speak to a representative of the Special Event Section. There are several criteria in the Fire Code, which if you are able to meet them, may allow you to increase the quantities of propane you are permitted to use for your cooking operation.

My set up isn't exactly like the floor plans I sent in along with my permit application.  Is that a problem?

Your permit is contingent upon meeting the conditions attached to it. In this case the floor plans attached to the permit constitute a portion of the permit conditions. Any variation from them invalidates the permit. You may however call the Fire Marshal's Office at (206) 386-1450 and ask to speak to a representative of the Special Events Section with regard to changes you would like to make to your floor plans. These changes will be considered by the Special Events Section prior to the event you are planning, right up until the day of the event. These changes may or may not be approved.

I didn't know that I needed to have a permit until today and my event is scheduled for tonight.  Can I still have my event?

An inspector from the Special Events Section of the Fire Marshal's Office is required to approve your event. If this is the first time you have applied for a permit AND an inspector is available, we will try to accommodate you as best we can. This is not a guarantee that your event will be approved. If an inspector from the Special Events Section is available to look at the plans and/or the site for the event, all pertinent Fire Code requirements must still be met before the permit can be approved.

Permit applications received less than 10 calendar days prior to the event for which they are being used, or 30 days in the case of some more complex permit types, will be assessed an additional late penalty of 50% of the original permit fee.  These time guidelines help allow sufficient review and ensure the safety of event participants.  For a list of permits and their time guidelines, please see Special Event Permits and Fees.  Applications received 3 business days or less prior to the event may not be processed and the permit may not be issued.

I'm bringing my own decorative material (i.e., drapes, vertical hangings, etc.) to a show.  When do they need to be treated and how do I do this?

All curtains, draperies, hangings and other decorative materials suspended from walls or ceilings are required by the Fire Code to be flame retardant.

Verification of the product/item in question as being flame retardant can only be accomplished via a valid Flame Certificate. The Flame Certificate must be available on-site. It shall indicate the product/item in question meets NFPA 701 or California State Fire Marshal requirements for flame retardancy.

If a product/item is inherently flame retardant, a Flame Certificate should be available from the manufacturer upon request that indicates it meets NFPA 701 or California State Fire Marshal requirements for flame retardancy.

When a product is not flame retardant or there is no Flame Certificate available for the product, it must be treated by a third party to render it flame retardant. The treating party should then provide a Flame Certificate indicating the product/item meets NFPA 701 or California State Fire Marshal requirements for flame retardancy.


I want to display a vehicle at my event.  Are there any restrictions?

Yes, a liquid or gas-fueled vehicle or equipment can be displayed in a Assembly Occupancy under the following conditions:

  • Maximum fuel: 1/4 of a tank or 5 gallons whichever is less.
  • All gas covers shall be taped or have a locking type gas cap.
  • Battery cables shall be disconnected and taped.
  • Vehicles with no fuel gauge or with broken fuel gauge shall not be allowed on the event floor and shall not be displayed, unless a representative of the Fire Marshal's Office gives prior approval.

For more information, please call the Seattle Fire Marshal's Office at (206) 386-1450 Monday -Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., and ask to speak to a representative of the Special Events Section.

I am a fire performer who is new to the area.  What are the Fire Department restrictions/requirements for me should I decide to work in the Seattle area?

An operational permit from the Seattle Fire Department is required to conduct fire performances in the City of Seattle.  For specifics, please contact the Special Event Section but note that while spinning, fire fingers, staff and other types of fire performances are sanctioned activities, fire breathing is not permitted.

Note:  Fire performances that occur indoors shall only occur in venues that are sprinklered.


Are sky lanterns allowed?

No, igniting and/or releasing sky lanterns is not allowed.


Last Modified:   January 03, 2017

Seattle Fire Department Home | About Us | Contact Us | Related Links | Employment | Site Map