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Fire Code Questions for Temporary Haunt

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  • Fire Code Questions for Temporary Haunt

    Hello everyone! Im planning my first haunt for a business venture and I have a few questions about the necessary fire detection systems and related codes.
    Wed like to debut a small, low-budget haunt at a local fair in New Jersey using two 30x10 tents, with a 12x16 pallet structure in-between. The pallet structure would be covered with tarp. The total square footage of the structure would be about 30x30. Our total budget is around $2,000.

    Under International Building Code 2015, we would be classified as a Special Amusement Building, and would therefore have to install an automatic smoke detection system. According to the code, if a single smoke detector were to go off, it would have to be audible in a constantly attended location where someone would be able to intervene, activate the emergency lighting, and turn off any confusing sounds/lights. It seems reasonable that we could make that work.

    The problem is that the code also specifies that if two or more smoke detectors were to go off, all of those things would have to happen automatically.
    After some research, I cant seem to find any type of device that actually can do that (the closest thing I could find was a smoke detector stove shut-off). I assume that mean we would have to hire a company to install such a system for our haunt. For one, that seems like it may not be possible given our budget. Also, Im not even sure it is even feasible if these temporary tents have the infrastructure for such a system?

    The next dilemma is one Ive seen on these forums already: sprinklers. Fortunately, I do believe we would meet the exemption requirements:
    1. The building is not more than 1,000 square feet; or the portion of the building to be used as a special amusement is not greater than 1,000 square feet and the special amusement is separated from the rest of the building by fire resistive construction with a minimum one hour rating;
    2. The exit access travel distance does not exceed 50 feet;
    3. The special amusement is on the ground floor;
    4. A perimeter of 20 feet, suitable for firefighting ground operations, is provided around the building; and
    5. Sufficient fire department personnel and firefighting apparatus are standing by on site at all times that the special amusement building is occupied.

    The only qualification which we might have trouble with is the 20 ft. perimeter, but Ive also seen some documents which only include the square footage and exit travel distance, not the other qualifications. Does anyone know more about that?

    My main question is if any haunt builders out there know of any fire detection systems and/or temporary sprinklers systems that would work, and how much they cost.

    And for anyone out there who might know a thing or two about fire code, is it possible for us to operate with a person at a constantly attended location, and bypass the need for the systems automatic functions? Also given that were constructing this primarily out of tents, not a building structure, could we be classified as an A-3, tent/membrane structure instead of a Special Amusement Building?

    Let me make it clear that safety is our first priority. Were not interested in putting anyone in danger or to hide from any laws. But it is hard for me to imagine a 30x30 ft. tent structure really needs such an intense fire system, but maybe I'm mistaken.

    Ive already reached out to some of the local municipalities, but given the circumstances with COVID 19, it could be some time before we hear back.

    Thanks for any and all help in advance.

  • #2
    as for the system that turns off everything that is done as a combination between your electrician and your alarm company... i have this same feature in the darkness. its not hard to do but first you need to focus on getting all heat detectors, those are wired into your alarm so if they go off its turns off the electric which then activates the emergency lights.

    Larry Kirchner


    • #3
      Okay makes sense. It will be interesting to see an alarm rigged to a temporary haunt of this size, but maybe it'll be a matter of putting a post out on craigslist and taking bids. Thanks!


      • #4
        Also remember that just because it's in the code doesn't mean your local fire dept won't require more! In Vegas they created a separate category called "Haunted House" . So no matter the square foot, if it's in a building, tent , trailer or a cardboard box...if it's a haunted house it requires a sprinkler system and an AUTOMATIC emergency system. Both must be installed and permits pulled by a licenced Fire Protection company. If ONE sensor is triggered you must shut off ALL confusing lights and sounds and activate an automatic announcement. Always check with your local jurisdiction and ask what they require. You don't want to agree to rent or a sign a lease to find out the building can't comply or the cost to comply is too much to be profitable!!
        R&J Productions
        Las Vegas, NV