A couple weeks ago, I was in Minneapolis attending the second week of Technical Committee meetings for NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000 working on the development of the 2021 edition of the Codes. I found out that week that I was scheduled to leave Minneapolis one day before the start of the state fair, and was disappointed to miss it. It’s one of the largest, by attendance, in the United States and this year broke its own attendance record with 2,046,533 attendees. Twenty-seven new foods were introduced at the fair. That’s a lot of concession stands feeding a lot of people!
NFPA 1, Fire Code, Section 10.14 provides requirements for special outdoor events, carnivals and fairs. Concession booths are a popular attraction and also a particular concern at fairs if not designed and setup safely. 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.
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
- New Section 50.7 mandates requirements for mobile and temporary cooking operations, defined as “Any cooking apparatus or equipment operated on a one-time basis, interim basis, or for less than 90 days in the same location, other than at a fixed location, building, or structure that has been inspected and permitted under another section of this Code, regulation, or statute.”
- Additional guidance is provided in Section 10.14 for electrical equipment, communications, power sources, and life safety evaluations for fairs and carnivals.
Other Code requirements for consideration at fairs and carnivals: maintaining acceptable fire department access and water supply as required (18.2, 18.3); completion of a life safety evaluation where ordered by the AHJ (10.14.3); standby generators and power systems that may be used to power attractions and facilities (11.7); special amusement buildings such as mirror mazes and haunted houses (20.1.4); and permitting (1.12)
By following the necessary precautions in NFPA 1, carnivals and fairs can continue to be a fun and memorable event for everyone.
What Code enforcement issues related to fairs and carnivals have you faced while reviewing and enforcing these event details in your jurisdiction?
Thank you for reading. Stay safe!
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