Tent Submittal Requirements

Submittal Guidelines And General Fire Safety Requirements For the Use of Tents and Membrane Structures

Definitions: Tent – a structure, enclosure or shelter, with or without sidewalls or drops, constructed of fabric or pliable material supported by any manner except by air or the contents that it protects. Membrane Structure – Air supported or air-inflated structure.

Required Permits: Tents having an area in excess of 800 square feet. Membrane Structures in excess of 400 square feet. Exceptions are below:

1. Tents open on all sides which comply with ALL of the following: Individual tents having a maximum size of 1800 square feet. The aggregate area of multiple tents placed side by side without a fire break clearance of 12 feet, not exceeding 1800 square feet. A minimum clearance of 12 feet to all structures and other tents.

2. Tents used exclusively for recreational camping purposes are exempt.

3. Funeral tents are exempt.

To apply for a tent permit that meets the above requirements to be constructed within the city limits of Gastonia, look before for submittal instructions:

  1. All applications must include a site plan showing how the tent will affect the location, proof that the tent will meet the flame propagation performance requirement, permit fee of $50 (payment can be made online via City View, or via check or money order by visiting the Garland Center), and be submitted at least 72 hours PRIOR to the tent being set up. The site plan, proof of flame propagation, can be uploaded and sent electronically by using the link below.
  2.  All tent applications are done electronically and can be submitted by clicking here.
  3. Once the application is submitted, you will need to pay the permit fee of $50. An operational permit application will be sent to the registered email address that is submitted with the tent application. On page 2 of that application are instructions on how to pay the permit fee online via City View, or you can print the application out and bring it to the Garland Center to pay the permit fee.
  4. AFTER the application is submitted correctly and the fee is paid, it will be processed and reviewed by the fire department and zoning. When it is approved an official permit will be issued by the fire department, and an inspection by the fire department will need to take place BEFORE the tent is allowed to be used.

Look below for general tent requirements:

General Requirements:

1. Tents shall be composed of flame-resistant material and shall have a permanently affixed label bearing the identification of size and fabric or material type. There are some exceptions and must be approved by the Gastonia Fire Marshal’s Office in advance.

3. Combustible material such as hay, straw, shaving or similar material shall not be located within any tent or membrane structure used for assembly purposes or cooking.

4. Must be located at least 20 feet from lot lines, parked vehicles and internal combustion engines.

5. All tents or membrane structures and their appurtenances shall be adequately roped, braced and anchored to withstand the elements of weather and prevent against collapsing. A minimum of 5 lbs at each post is required. This can be accomplished with sand bags, concrete weights, steel weights, or water filled containers.

Fire Extinguishers:

1. Fire extinguishers shall be serviced yearly, gauge in charged zone (green area) and readily available for use. Proof of yearly service required (inspection tag on extinguisher or receipt).

2. At least one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 2A-10 BC rating shall be located every 75 feet of travel distance. 

Extension Cords:

1. Power Strips are permitted. Location of the power strip, or cord end shall be installed in a dry location protected from the weather. 

2. Cords shall be grounded and maintained in good condition without splices, deterioration or damage.

3. Cords shall be supported in place at intervals that insure that they will be protected from damage, not create a trip hazard, and remain in place. Support shall be in the form of staples, cable ties, straps, or running boards. The method used shall not cause damage to the cord.

4. Where subject to vehicle traffic, the cords shall be protected with two wooden boards anchored to the ground and the cord shall be placed between the two boards.

5. Where subject to pedestrian traffic the cords shall be protected by rubber mats or one layer of 30 pound roofing felt paper.

Exit Signs and Means of Egress Illumination:

1. Means of egress shall be illuminated with light having an intensity of not less than 1 footcandle (11 lux) at floor level.

2. Exits shall be clearly marked and exits signs shall be installed at exit doorways.


1. Generators and other internal combustion power sources shall be located a minimum of 20 feet from a tent or membrane structure.

2. Shall be isolated from contact with the public by fencing, enclosure, or other approved means.

3. Flammable and combustible liquids shall be stored not less than 50 feet from a tent or membrane structure.

Heating of Tents:

1. The heating of tents shall be accomplished by forced air, with the heating equipment outside of the tent.


Gastonia, N.C., just minutes west of Charlotte, is one of the area’s best places to live and work with an ideal combination of location, size and livability. Gastonia is the largest of Gaston County’s 13 municipalities and one of the largest cities in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Selected as an All-America City three times, Gastonia’s desirable quality of life is the result of its beautiful natural surroundings, friendly neighborhoods, responsive government and vibrant business environment.


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Gastonia, NC 28052