Post # 1
Have any of you had experience with fire code regulations? I’m getting married in Nova Scotia, Canada, but the fire codes really seem to be national guidelines. The reception will be in a tent and we’re trying to figure out if we can do anything with the ceiling. At first we were thinking of tulle, but we’ve shifted to paper lanterns. Any knowledge of experience would be greatly appreciated.
Post # 3
Actually the fire codes are local guidelines. The National Fire Protection Association publishes a set of consensus codes, which are generally enforced throughout the US, but each city and county also has their own set of codes – which is why fireworks are legal in some cities and not in others, and why some (for instance) Denver can’t have wood-burning fireplaces in hotels, while you can find them in most of the rest of Colorado. Your best bet is to do the same thing you would have to do here – to contact the local fire department for the area you are getting married in, and ask them what you can do. They should be happy to help you.
Post # 4
I have managed many tent parties for corporate clients, and your tent rental company should be your best resource for local fire code rules. Normally, draping the tent with fabric is fine as long as the material is flame retardent. The fire marshal will actually take a piece of the fabric and light it with a match to see if it burns, so do the test yourself before you start hanging it!
Paper lanterns are also popular and it depends on whether you plan on lighting them or not. If you are stringing lights inside the lanterns, rules vary, so check with your tent company. But if it’s just the paper lanterns and you are lighting the tent w/ separate lights, you can usually hang as many as you want.
The big thing is capacity. They are strict on the size of the tent and how many people they will allow in it (they look at how easy it is for people to escape in case of fire or the tent collapses). If you’re even close to being over, err on the safe side and pick the bigger tent, even if it’s more expensive. It’s better than getting shut down on your wedding day!
Lastly, there needs to be an appropriate amount of extinguishers, based on the size of the tent.
Post # 5
FYI – the fabric test does allow the fabric to burn – but it must be flame retardant. You simply aren’t going to find any fabric that doesn’t burn. The test is actually done with a kitchen match (don’t use a cigarette lighter). Start with about a foot-long strip, about two inches wide – suspend it from a wire coat hanger or something like that, because if it does burn well, you don’t want to be holding onto it. Hold the kitchen match to the fabric for about 7 seconds, and then pull it away. The fabric must self-extinguish, and must not melt and drip at any time during the test. It also shouldn’t have burned more than 3 – 4 inches during that period of time.
Post # 6
While I’m not familar with the exact building and fire codes in Canada, chances are the codes are based on the IBC (International Building Code) which is what most state codes in the US are based on.
The first section of the code pretty much gives the local code enforcement offfical the dicretion to enforce the code as they see fit. Therefore, I would contact the local building offical and they will give you the guidelines they would like you to follow.
If the official requires a more in depth code review, I would not try to figure it out yourself. I would for sure contact a local design professional, architect or engineer, to help you.
Post # 7
The fire code is actually the biggest reason that venues do not allow hanging items from the walls and ceilings.. its not that they worry about the paint!!