The smell of fresh spun cotton candy, the greasy fried food, and the whirling rides. It's carnival season! Who doesn't remember the excitement of the local county fair when they were a kid? But how many people thought about the codes and standards that help ensure visitors and workers are kept safe? I sure didn't.
NFPA 1, Fire Code, Section 10.14 provides requirements for special outdoor events, carnivals and fairs. Concession booths are a particular concern at fairs. Many contain flammable liquids, commercial cooking equipment, and are producing grease laden vapors. Often times concession stands are crammed into one small pedestrian area, concentrating the potential hazard into a confined, high-traffic zone.
Overall, the AHJ is permitted to regulate all outdoor events such as carnivals and fairs as it pertains to access for emergency vehicles, access to fire protection equipment, placement of stands and concession booths, and exhibits, as well as the control of hazardous conditions dangerous to life and property. The AHJ plays an important role in reviewing the layout of the event; where concessions and vendors can be located, making sure proper egress is maintained, and keeping the necessary access for fire department vehicles available in case of an emergency.
In addition, NFPA 1 specifically addresses the protection of concession stands with the following requirements:
- 10.14.5 A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher be provided for each concession stand where required by the AHJ.
- 10.14.8 Concession stands utilized for cooking shall have a minimum of 10 ft (3 m) of clearance on two sides and must not be located within 10 ft (3 m) of amusement rides or devices.
- 18.104.22.168: Cooking equipment used in fixed, mobile, or temporary concessions, such as trucks, buses, trailers, pavilions, tents, or any form of roofed enclosure, shall comply with NFPA 96 or Chapter 50 unless otherwise exempted by the AHJ in accordance with 1.3.2 of NFPA 96.
- Additional guidance is provided in Section 10.14 for electrical equipment, communications, power sources, and life safety evaluations for fairs and carnivals.
By following the necessary precautions in NFPA 1, carnivals and fairs can continue to be a fun and memorable event for everyone.