It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For some of you that might mean sending your kids back to school. For me it means fall in New England. It’s the best time of year. It also means a busy time of year for code enforcers and fire inspectors. Fall festivals, back to school preparations, requests for haunted houses, special events, and even corn mazes require diligent preparation and understanding of the Fire Code and its application to these seasonal activities.
Did you know that NFPA 1 contains provisions for corn (crop) mazes?
One might not think of a corn maze as somewhere with a great fire safety risk. However, crop mazes pose unique fire safety problems due to their configuration (confusing paths and lack of marked egress) and the inherent combustibility of the maze materials (drying corn stalks.)
NFPA 1 addresses a number of requirements pertaining to these crop mazes. Some of the biggest concerns are communication of regulations and instructions to both employees and visitors and making sure there is a way to make announcements to visitors should an emergency occur. It is also important to reduce the likelihood for a fire to occur by keeping potential ignition sources, such as open flames, pyrotechnics, smoking materials, and special effects at a safe distance from the maze.
Section 10.14.11 of the Code contains the following provisions related to crop mazes:
- The owner/operator is required to advise all employees of the fire and life safety regulations as well as provide safety instructions to the visitors and patrons of a crop maze prior to their entrance to the maze.
- The owner/operator must contact the local fire department and provide them with the opportunity to prepare a pre-plan of the maze prior to the start of seasonal operations.
- A minimum of two employees shall be on duty to monitor a crop maze during hours of operation and at least one of the employees shall be located on an elevated platform a minimum of 10 ft above the maze.
- Motorized vehicles shall not be parked within 75 ft of a crop maze and a fuel break of a minimum of 20 ft wide shall be cleared between a crop maze and any vehicles or vegetation outside the maze.
- A public address system is required to make announcements during an emergency.
- The entrance and exit from the maze cannot be blocked or obstructed anytime the maze is open to and occupied by the public.
- No more than 200 persons per acre can occupy the maze at one time.
- No open-flame devices are permitted within the boundaries of the maze, including no smoking.
Do you have crop mazes in your juridiction? Have you inspected corn mazes for compliance with NFPA 1? What are the common deficiencies you see in your jurisdiction? The requirements from NFPA 1 will help ensure we all stay safe and have fun while enjoying these outdoor attractions this season.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe and Happy Friday!