Fire Safety and Temporary Structures

The following appendix is a summary of the most common fire hazards and codes event planners should be aware of.  This is not a comprehensive list of all possible fire codes pertaining to events on or about GW’s campus.  For a more comprehensive summary please see the GWU Fire and Life Safety Events Policy or contact Environmental Health & Safety at [email protected]

Common Fire Hazards

All material considered flammable and/or combustible must have a minimum of 10 ft. clearance of all tall vegetation that is not used for necessary support equipment (NFPA 101: Additionally, sources of ignition, including matches and lighters, shall not be used within 20 ft. (6 m) of areas used for fueling and servicing fuel systems of internal combustion engines (NFPA 1:

Some Common Fire Hazards include but are not limited to the following:

  • Electric heaters
  • Smoking
  • Electrical Wiring/Equipment
  • Outdoors electrical cords, receptacles, connections, and or appliances

Open Flames

Bonfires (See GWU Fire and Life Safety Events Policy for complete requirements)

An open burning fire shall burn only dry, well-seasoned wood, to a maximum area of 5 feet in diameter by 5 feet in height with a minimum of 50 feet to any structures. 

  • DC Fire Department permit will be required
  • suppression equipment and support personnel are required during the burn.
  • Permittee is responsible to coordinate equipment and personnel.

BBQ Grills

No hibachi, grill, or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose shall be used or kindled on any balcony, under any overhanging portion, or within 10 ft. of any structure.

Tents and Other Temporary Structures

Most reputable tent companies will be aware of and meet fire code standards however, EH&S as the authority having jurisdiction reserves the authority to request documentation and inspect all tents and temporary structures.  Below is a non-inclusive list:

  • The Occupant Load (OL), assessments, and exit remoteness for assembly areas will be determined by Environmental Health & Safety during the document review process.
  • All temporary tents with an occupant load of 50 or more people, or tents operating electrical equipment or appliances shall have a minimum of one ABC certified portable fire extinguisher
  • A minimum 10 ft. clearance must be maintained from tents to any flammable or combustible materials or vegetation.