The University of Alabama, Division of Finance and Operations

Temporary Structures Policy

Unit:  Environmental Health and Safety
Contact: Gene Holcomb
Title:  Assistant Director
Effective Date: 10/06/2022
Revision Date: 10/06/2022


The purpose of this policy is to set forth the standards for the safe operation and use of all temporary structures on University of Alabama (University) property.


Temporary structures are defined as structures that are erected for less than 180 consecutive days. This policy establishes the minimum strength, fire resistance, and other safety requirements for temporary structures erected on University property. Temporary structures shall comply with the requirements provided in the International Fire Code (IFC). The IFC shall control in the event of any conflict with this policy. This policy also establishes the minimum documentation required to procure products and information required on submittals for permit applications. All other structures are considered permanent and shall be governed by the appropriate adopted building codes.

Standards for Temporary Structures


Temporary structures shall be designed to safely resist a minimum ground wind speed of 45 mph. Member loading shall be determined according to the provisions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standard titled Minimum Design Loads and Associated Criteria for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE/SEI-7-16) for use in open terrain, and design shall be executed and stamped by a licensed design professional according to industry standards. Documentation that the structure meets this standard is required prior to procuring or permitting use of temporary structures.

Anchoring may be provided by weights or driven spikes. Anchoring requirements and means shall be fully defined by the temporary structure supplier. Underground utilities shall be located via line-locate prior to driving spikes.

Fire Resistance

Materials used in temporary structures shall meet the following fire resistance standards. Certificates of compliance with these standards are required prior to procuring structures and shall be submitted for permitting.
  • Must pass National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 701, Test Method 2.
  • Textiles and films must have permanently affixed labels, stencils, or stamps with the following information: 1) The seal of registration and 2) the Manufacturer, name, registration number and date of fabric treatment. This information must be permanently affixed and not be removable by washing.

Egress and Safety

The following egress and safety standards shall apply:
  • Exits must be spaced evenly around the structure. Occupied points within the structure shall be within 100 feet of travel distance from an exit.  
  • The minimum number of egress points is based on the occupant load as follows:
    Occupant Load Minimum Number of Exits Minimum Width of Each Exit
    10-199 2 72 inches
    200-499 3 72 inches
    500-999 4 96 inches
    1,000-1,999 5 120 inches
  • Exits on closed sided structures shall be a minimum of 80 inches in height above the floor, be open or covered with a free sliding, fire resistant curtain having a contrasting color to that of the closed sided structure. For occupancies of 1,999 and above, consult with EHS for requirements. No zipped entry points are allowed.
  • Exit signs shall be provided on closed sided structures for occupancy loads of 50 or more.
  • Exit signs shall have emergency power for occupancy loads exceeding 300.
  • One fire extinguisher (Type 2-A) shall be provided for structures up to 500 square feet.
  • Two Type 2-A fire extinguishers are required for structures exceeding 500 square feet and less than 3000 square feet. One additional extinguisher shall be provided for each additional 2000 square feet of floor area, or fraction thereof.
  • Extinguishers shall be located adjacent to the exits.
  • A minimum of one Type 2-A fire extinguisher shall be required for structures housing open flame cooking or open flame warming.
  • One 10-pound ABC fire extinguisher shall be provided for each generator or transformer. One 10-pound ABC fire extinguisher shall be provided where combustible liquids or gases are used or stored. Generators or transformers shall be separated from temporary structures by not less than 20 feet and isolated from contact with the public.
  • For occupancies of 1,000 or more, one trained crowd manager shall be present for every 250 people present.
  • Open flame cooking, or cooking that could emit sparks, is not allowed in structures designated for public occupancy or within 20 feet of structures designated for public occupancy. Storage and use of liquid fuels are not permitted in temporary structures.
  • Heating, warming, and cooking equipment may not be located within 10 feet of exits or combustible materials.
  • A 20-foot-wide fire access clearance shall be provided on one side when the area of the structure, or aggregate area of structures, exceeds 15,000 square feet. If the area is used for cooking, a 20-foot-wide fire access clearance shall be provided on one side when the area of the structure, or aggregate area of structures, exceeds 10,000 square fee.
  • Temporary structures shall be fully or partially disassembled when high wind events are anticipated as required to ensure campus safety.

Submittal of Permitted Use of Temporary Structures

It is necessary to follow the University's Grounds Use Permit Process to obtain approval to erect a temporary structure related to an event on University property. The Ground Use Permit will have a link to the temporary structure information form that shall be completed and submitted to Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) for approval prior to using a temporary structure. My Source will have the questions embedded in the form for approval from EHS. Information required on the form includes:
  • Fully define the area of use of the structure. This shall include proposed distances from the temporary structure to adjacent permanent or temporary structures.
  • Intended use of the structure.
  • Dates of delivery, erection, and removal of the structure.
  • Distance from nearest open flame that does not include food warming.
  • Dimensions of the structure.
  • Maximum occupancy load for the structure.
  • Provide a layout of the interior space when the structure exceeds 18 feet of enclosed length in both directions, when the structure will be enclosed with soft or rigid walls, or when the occupancy load exceeds 50 persons.
  • Certification that the structure is designed to safely resist a minimum ground wind speed of 45 mph. Certification shall be signed by a licensed professional engineer.
  • Certification that the materials meet the fire resistance requirements listed above. 
Contact EHS to request a permitting form to obtain approval for temporary structures outside of the Ground Use Permit or My Source process. 

Documentation for Procurement of Temporary Structures

In addition to the documents required for permitting submittal, the following shall be required for procurement of temporary structures:
  • Clear instructions for the erection of the structure such as identifying piece marks, order of assembly, and anchoring requirements for each step in the assembly process.
  • Certification that the structure meets the structural and fire resistance requirements of this policy. Testing certificates provided by independent labs and stamped engineering drawings shall be provided and shipped with the structure.
Certification Notice: A sign shall be affixed to the tent that states the manufacturer model number, EHS approval number, and maximum wind speed capacity.


Except for NFPA 701 flame spread testing and open flame cooking and warming, the following are exempt from this policy:
  • Tents used solely for recreational camping purposes.
  • Temporary structures less than 400 square feet.
  • Open sided structures, or multiple open sided structures placed side by side, with a total area not exceeding 700 square feet, when placed with a minimum 12-foot clearance to adjacent structures on all sides. Clearance area cannot include any anchor hardware.
  • The structural requirements of this policy may be waived, for temporary structures with a three-year record of successful use on campus, or structurally identical to temporary structures with a three-year record of successful use on campus. Contact EHS  to request a permitting form to obtain approval for temporary structures wavier.


This policy applies to individuals or organizations who plan to use a temporary structure on University property. 

Office of the Vice President of Finance and Operations

Approved by Cheryl Mowdy, Assistant Vice President for Finance and Operations, 10/06/2022