Without Enforcement the Insanity Will Continue

A discussion regarding the installation of the above photo took place last weekend on the Facebook group “Tent Rental and Ballasting Innovations.” The discussion was about the tent rental company’s decision to tie the tent legs together and whether it was appropriate to ballast this installation using four 20X20’S and to create a 40X40.

The discussion group consisted mainly of tent rental companies. Safety Advocates for Tents & Special Events posted an earlier blog commenting about this very same scenario “Rules for Sitting on a Two-Legged Stool.”

The discussion eventually asked where the enforcement was to stop this apparently unsafe installation? The actuality is the installation will happen again because this time nothing happened. Why would the Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) spend valuable resources on an installation that went on without an incident? Without and AHJ present in these talks the insanity will continue.

There is a potential solution to solve the insanity and the solution has been in the code for years, defined as “Construction Documents.” Assuming you are applying for a tent permit, using IFC Chapter 31 as a reference submit a series of Construction Documents. A comprehensive site and floor plan for tents or membrane structures with an occupant load of 50 or more shall be provided with each application for approval. The tent or membrane structure floor plan shall indicate details of the means of egress facilities, seating capacity, arrangement of the seating and location and type of heating and electrical equipment.Throw in a flame certificate and you have a complete set of documentation.

Before you start to blow up about the reference in the code stating a ‘’Registered Design Professional” required for a “Construction Document” we have contacted numerous AHJ’S thru out the U.S. asking for their definition of a “Construction Document.” Their response was that the suggested installation documentation provided by the manufacturer is acceptable. The next question we asked the AHJ was about non-engineered tents and validating the design using “The Formula” published in the Common Wealth of Kentuck Temporary Tents, Canopies & Membrane Structures Guidelines. Again a degree of acceptance with some reservations. We asked two engineers outside of our industry to look at “The Formula” and their response was, “It is just math. The method has some basis in calculating the amount of exposure along with an accepted formula to calculate wind load.” SAFTSE will continue to work on clarifying the validity of the ”The Formula” in conjunction with the folks in Frankfurt Kentucky.

For our solution to gain momentum we suggest reading the blog post “Take Your Fire Marshal Out for Coffee.” Have an open discussion about your concerns regarding enforcement, installation, and ballasting. You also need to discuss with your AHJ if there are limited resources for special events enforcement. A candid discussion about “Construction Documents” and submitting these documents before issuing a permit may be beneficial to all parties to have as a reference and to create a safe environment for a tented event.

It takes two to tango and by pairing the Good Guys with the AHJ’S will not eliminate the insanity but with a little peer pressure, we have the potential to control it.

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