Any AFD requirements issued prior to and/or onsite at an event must be followed. Inspectors are subject matter experts whose interpretation of the International Fire Code may require additional public safety actions be taken prior to our issuance of permits and/or load card(s). Inspectors also have the authority to assign public safety requirements at their discretion. Contact Austin Fire Department (AFD) Special Events directly at AFDSpecialEvents@austintexas.gov.
All events are subject to a site plan approval and fire inspection. No gas fired (propane, natural gas, etc.), wood burning, or other open flame heaters, pits, or other containers are allowed inside tents.
Emergency vehicle access roads shall have an unobstructed width of no less than 25 feet.
The unobstructed roadway width may be reduced to less than 25 feet for all or part of the required roadway. The Fire Chief has the authority to require an increase or permit a decrease in access widths when necessary to meet public safety objectives.
Fire Lane Vertical Clearance
An unobstructed vertical clearance of no less than 14 feet must be maintained on all overhead obstructions above any fire lanes at all times. This includes those positioned over roadways including, but not limited to: event starting lines, overhead banners, and/or event entry structural support systems.
- Generators must be located 10 feet from any permanent structure.
- Generators must be located 20 feet from any tent or temporary membrane or air inflated structure.
- Generators must not be located on any sidewalk or within 10 feet of a building exit or egress path unless otherwise approved.
- The locations of all generators must be indicated on site plans.
- Generators must be allowed to cool down prior to refueling.
- Generators less than 10 gallons may be refueled during normal hours, provided fueling is 25 feet from the public.
- Generators over 10 gallons must be refueled when the public is not present.
- Generators must be protected from public access.
- "No smoking" signs must be posted around the generator and any stored fuels.
- Less than 10 gallons of fuel may be stored on site.
- The fuel must be stored 50 feet from any tent or temporary membrane or air inflated structure.
- Generators with less than 60 gallons of fuel must have a 2A:10BC or larger fire extinguisher within 30 feet of the generator.
- Generators with more than 60 gallons of fuel must have a 2A:20BC or larger fire extinguisher within 30 feet of the generator.
- Generators with more than a 60 gallon tank require the tank to be labeled and list to meet UL 142 specifications.
- Maximum fuel capacity for any generator is 660 gallons.
*Note: A site review may determine additional requirements.
Carnival/Circus Operational Permit
An operational permit is required to operate a circus or carnival with an expected attendance of more than 50 people.
An ACE application is required to be submitted at least thirty (30) calendar days prior to the event or according to the SEO’s deadline for the tier of the event (whichever is greater).
Exhibit & Trade Show Permit
Exhibit and Trade Show permits are required by the International Fire Code. The City of Austin requires facilities to meet specific life safety standards when hosting these types of events.
Exhibits and trade shows are defined as, “any event with temporary vendor displays or booths.” Also included would be “any configuration that deviates from the normal use of the space, including sectioning to reduce the size of the original space and/or a configuration which obstructs the exits and/or egress pathways within the space (e.g., fence, structures, pipe and drape, or other barriers).”
Permits may be required for facilities that host exhibits and trade shows to include: convention centers, event centers, arenas, hotels with ballrooms or meeting rooms, and/or any other A-2 or A-3 occupancies.
To obtain the permit, a complete online application and floor plan submission must be submitted at least 21 days prior to the event.
See our Exhibit and Trade Show Permits page for more information.
All activities associated with the use of pyrotechnics and open flames must comply with the current IFC and adopted ordinances, and require review and approval by the Austin Fire Department (i.e., outdoor fireworks and pyrotechnics.).
Those requesting the use of aerial fireworks and/or pyrotechnics must fill out an ACE application at least 30 days prior to the scheduled event or according to the SEO’s deadline for the tier of the event (whichever is greater).
A PERMIT, ALONG WITH THE FOLLOWING, IS REQUIRED IN ORDER TO PROMOTE OR EXECUTE A COMMERCIAL OR CONSUMER FIREWORKS DISPLAY WITHIN THE CITY OF AUSTIN:
- A site plan of the grounds where the display is to be held must be submitted to and approved by AFD Special Events in advance of the event.
- A copy of a pyrotechnic operator license issued by a State Fire Marshal’s Office (commercial only).
- A list of the fireworks to be used along with an MSDS for each (commercial only). Consumer displays are restricted to only ground devices containing 50mg or less of explosive composition and smoke devices classed as explosive 1.4G, firecrackers, and small smoke bombs.
- Aerial displays must carry a Certificate of Insurance for a minimum of $1,000,000 (bodily injury) and $500,000 (property damage).
- Non-aerial displays must carry a Certificate of Insurance for a minimum of $500,000 (bodily injury) and $300,000 (property damage). The City of Austin must be named as co-insured on the policy.
- A permit fee, along with the required apparatus and inspector standby, depending on the type of display.
- A Public Display permit (pdf) must be obtained from the State Fire Marshal’s Office (commercial only).
Flame Effect/Open Flame Performance Requirements
A flame effect is the combustion of flammable solids, liquids and/or gases to produce thermal, physical, visual and/or audible phenomena before an audience (i.e., hand-held burning torches, flaming batons or hoops, flame acts, fire walking, flaming sword dancers, open burning with religious services, candles or open flames in assembly occupancies, and fire or special effects for film productions). A full demonstration to the Fire Marshal prior to the event date may be required.
Those hosting events with 50 or more people must fill out an ACE application; the deadline is either the greater of 30 days or the SEO’s deadline for the tier of the event (whichever is greater).
Events with less than 50 people must fill out the standalone Open Flame application no less than 10 days prior to the event.
Outdoor Event Permit
An Outdoor Event permit is required for outdoor events on public and/or private property with more than 49 people and must be available upon request by an inspector.
An ACE application is required to be submitted at least 30 calendar days prior to the event or according to the SEO’s deadline for the tier of the event (whichever is greater).
Outdoor Exit Sign Requirements
Fire exits are necessary for any fenced events. The amount of fire exits and location will be determined by AFD.
Exit signage must meet the following requirements, unless otherwise specified by AFD:
- Lighted with backup power (LED battery-powered lights may be allowed upon review);
- Minimum height: Seven feet above ground
- Lettering shall be no smaller than 18 inches for exit signs (white sign with red lettering is preferred but red signage with white lettering is also allowed).
Temporary Egress Lighting Installations
Required egress lighting and exits signs must not be on the same circuit as general use receptacles or decorative lighting.
Recreational Fire Permit
Open burning (not a demonstration or performance for an audience) is a recreational fire, defined as, “an outdoor fire that burns materials other than rubbish and where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit and has a total fuel area of 3 feet (914 mm) or less in diameter and 2 feet (610 mm) or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth, and/or similar purposes.”
Those hosting events with 50 or more people must fill out an ACE application at least 30 days prior to the scheduled event or the deadline established by the SEO for the event within the appropriate tier.
Those hosting events with less than 50 people must fill out the standalone Open Flame application no less than 10 days prior to the event.
Public Assembly (PA) Permit
An annual Public Assembly (PA) permit is required for public establishments who anticipate or operate at an occupancy rate of 50 or more people, and whose gross sales constitute 51% alcohol. Responsibility for acquiring and maintaining this permit will rest with the property owner or legal representative/agent.
Failure to renew your Annual Public Assembly Permit may result in a citation.
Inspections required for annual public assembly permits are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis and are based on completed application submission and payment dates.
Temporary Change of Use (TCOU) Permit
Under the International Fire Code definition, a “Public Assembly” is 50 or more people (e.g., use of a vacant building, warehouse, high-rise office building/garage, etc.). TCOU permits ensure all stipulations have been met to temporarily change the use of the structure so that the safety of occupants is ensured. Since said facility is not intended for Public Assemblies, it therefore lacks the required life-safety features required by the 2015 IFC/IBC.
The following may be required due to the size, complexity, and/or unique safety issues regarding the activities associated with a proposed event:
- Inspection services
- Fire watch
- Onsite stand-by inspectors and/or stand-by fire apparatus
No more than 12 TCOU permits shall be issued for any given address in a calendar year (January 1 – December 31).
Conditions of approval will be provided after the application review process is complete.
Those requesting Temporary Change of Use (TCOU) permits must fill out an ACE application at least thirty (30) days prior to the scheduled event or by the SEO’s deadline for the tier of the event (whichever is greater).
Temporary Occupancy Load Adjustments
A Temporary Occupancy Load Adjustment modifies the occupant load at an assembly occupancy venue with a previously-issued a load card (i.e., an assembly occupancy adding a stage to their previously-approved floor plan which would result in a reduction in occupant load). This is NOT for permanent increases in occupant load; those must be approved by the City’s Development Services Department (DSD).
Temporary Helistop Permit
Any temporary helistop erected for helicopter landing must meet fire code regulations and approved by the Austin Fire Marshal, who will issue the permit.
An e-mail request for a helistop permit must be made to the Austin Fire Department no later than 10 calendar days prior to the scheduled event.