Tent Rental Guidelines

Rhode Island State Fire Safety Code Tent Application Guidelines

All tent permit requests are now handled by the State Building Code Commission. Please click here for more information.

General Requirements

  1. No tent exceeding three hundred fifty square feet (350 sq. ft.) in area shall be erected, maintained, operated, or used in any city or town in this state except under a license from the licensing authorities of the city or town. The license shall not be issued for a period exceeding thirty (30) days and shall be revocable for cause. Application shall be made on proper form and, when deemed necessary by the licensing authorities, shall include plans drawn to scale, showing exits, aisles, and seating arrangements and details of the structural support of tent, seats, and platforms, etc. (RIGL 23-28.19-1).
  2.  A certificate or other evidence of acceptance shall be provided to prove flame propagation performance (RILSC & RIFC 25.2.2).
  3. Tents shall be erected to cover not more than 75% of the premises (RILSC
  4. The AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) shall survey, each tent for which a permit has been granted, after it is erected, and if it is to be used as a place of assembly, before it is occupied. The AHJ shall require installation of such fire appliances as are deemed necessary and designate their location.(RIGL 23-28.19.14).
  5. Adjacent tents shall be spaced to provide an area to be used as means of emergency egress (RILSC
  6. The placement of tents relative to other structures shall be at the discretion of the AHJ (RILSC
  7. Portable extinguishers and similar appliances shall be properly distributed and readily accessible. All fire appliances shall be kept in working condition and shall be inspected prior to the occupancy of the tent. It shall be the duty of the owner or manager of each tent to maintain these appliances. (RILSC 11.11.5).
  8. All vendors installing tents that will be held down by spikes driven into the ground (any length) must call 811 (DigSafe) at least 72 hours  prior to the requested installation date and time. (This 72-hour waiting period excludes weekends and holidays.)  Should you require assistance with this process, please call the URI Control Center at (401) 874-4060 and ask to be transferred to the URI Utilities Office.

Exit Signs & Emergency Lighting

  1. Exits shall be marked by an approved sign that is readily visible from any direction (RILSC If open structure, no EXIT sign is required (RILSC
  1. Tents exceeding 1200 SF shall have emergency lighting (RILSC If open structure, no emergency lighting required (RILSC
  2. The finished ground level enclosed by any tent, and the finished ground level for a reasonable distance, but for not less than 10 feet outside of such a tent, shall be cleared of all flammable or combustible material or vegetation that is not used for necessary support equipment. The clearing work shall be accomplished to the satisfaction of the AHJ prior to the erection of such a tent. The premises shall be kept free from such flammable or combustible materials during the period for which the premises are used by the public (RIFC & RILSC 11.11.4).
  3. Generators and other internal combustion power sources shall be separated from tents by a minimum of 5 feet and shall be protected from contact by fencing, enclosure, or other approved means (RIFC
  4. All electrical installations must be approved by URI electricians or other licensed electrical contractor.


  1. NO SMOKING signs shall be prominently displayed at all entrances and at other locations within any tent used as a place of assembly, so that they may be clearly visible to all occupants. (RILSC

Heating and Cooking

  1. Cooking equipment used in fixed, mobile, or temporary concessions, such as trucks, buses, trailers, pavilions, tents, or any form of roofed enclosure, shall comply with NFPA 96 unless all or part of the installation is exempted by the AHJ. If cooking is permitted, a “K” class fire extinguisher is required (RIFC 50.4.12).
  2. Containers for liquified petroleum gases shall be installed not less than 60 inches from any tent and shall be in accordance with NFPA 58 (RILSC
  3. Only labeled heaters shall be permitted for use inside the tent and shall be connected to electricity by electric cable that is suitable for outside use and is of sufficient size to handle the electric load (RILSC