4 Tent Safety Requirements You Need to Know

A Tent seems pretty simple – structure, fabric, anchorage – yet it can be complicated!
  • Building and fire codes to follow
  • Permits and notifications to obtain
  • Underground & overhead utilities to avoid –  locating requires 48 hours business notice (minimum and not guaranteed)
  • Weather conditions
  • Making sure your tent stays up and in place – The goal is to secure a tent with enough holding power to withstand the forces of the wind both vertically and laterally (many factors affect wind – altitude, proximity to bodies of water, tent size, roof slope and more)


First, let’s review typical Tent Styles (Pole Tents, Frame Tents, and ClearSpan Tents)

  1. Pole Tent – Pole and Century tents are tensioned tents that are supported by stakes every 10 feet around the perimeter. 40’ wide pole tents have a single row of center poles every 20’ down the middle of the tent. This creates high peaks, improving the overall aesthetics of the tent.

Photography:  Jessica Strickland Photography


2. Frame Tent – Frame tents are spacious and have flexible layout options as they do not have center poles.


3. ClearSpan Tent – ClearSpan tents are great for long-term use as they can withstand adverse weather elements and high winds. They can act as a temporary building structure.

Photography: Chloe Luka Photography 


  1. How do you make sure your tent stays up and in place? Staking vs. Weighting

Staking is the most common & safest method for anchoring your tent. All tent manufacturers prefer tents to be staked. A Classic Party Rental stakes 3 feet into the ground per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Staking is also advantageous because it takes less time to set up and tear down, it requires fewer vehicles with less labor involved and equipment (dingo, forklifts, dollies, etc.). Upon tear down, for a fee, stake holes can be patched with pea-gravel 1” from the top then filled with quality tar patch and tamp down nicely. Please notify your account manager prior to tear down so we can arrive with the appropriate materials. Also, due to the deep nature of the stake, Indiana811 must be notified. A Classic Party Rental will report the “dig” complimentary on your behalf. More on that below.



Weighting/ballasts are sometimes used in locations where staking is impractical. In some circumstances, tents are requested to be installed on surfaces that cannot be staked. In these instances, we use a frame tent only. A pole tent cannot be anchored with tent weights. We have adopted the City of Indianapolis’ requirement of 18 pounds per square foot to be used for anchoring tents. This is based on a dead weight load using concrete ballasts. Water barrels are no longer a viable option for anchoring tens, as the friction of the barrel and the height of the strapping reduce the holding power significantly.


Drop-in Concrete Anchor can be drilled into an area that has at least 6” deep concrete that is not “old” or has cracks. The concrete must be in-tact. This is not an option for most patios or sidewalks because they are not big enough or deep enough. This is a great option for reoccurring events on commercial property. 

A Classic Party Rental follows the strictest guidelines in regards to staking and weighting to ensure we are installing the safest temporary structure possible to keep you and your guests safe.


2. Fire Safety Code Package – Required by Indiana State Law 

Chapter 31 of the Indiana State Code, requires a Fire Code Package for all tents over 400 square feet. An A Classic Fire Code Package consists of a fire extinguisher, a no smoking sign and an exit sign. Depending on the square footage of the tent we are installing, a certain quantity combination of the aforementioned items is required by law per square foot. Some rental companies will not require the Fire Code Package on their rentals, however, A Classic Party continues to abide by all Fire Marshall and State Law requirements for ALL temporary structures so that we can sleep at night knowing your guests are as safe as possible.


3. Call Before You Dig! Indiana811 (https://indiana811.org/)

It may seem as though we ask a lot of questions for what appears to be a simple tent, but as we mentioned, tents are more complicated when you dig deeper (pun intended) into what it takes to set up a small tent. Anytime you dig, utilities need to be marked to avoid hitting a utility line. Since A Classic Party Rental stakes 3 feet into the ground, it’s required that we notify Indiana811 so that they can mark the utility lines. Indiana811 requires a minimum of 48 hours to complete the dig but it can sometimes take longer. We like to have the Dig completed 5 days prior to your event. 

Below are the questions we will need to be answered in order for the Indiana811 Utility Locate to be completed properly.

  1. Jobsite name and contact information?
  2. City, County & Township of the dig?
  3. Subdivision?
  4. Lot number if available?
  5. Address?
  6. Nearest Intersecting streets within a half mile of the dig?
  7. Where exactly on the property is the dig taking place (using cardinal directions)?
  8. Type of surface?
  9. Will the area be white lined?


Utility Markings– Once the area is marked, looked for the markings. A Classic Party Rental will use the guide to avoid staking in areas with markings. Sometimes, A Classic will white line the area so that the utility inspectors will know where the proposed digging will take place.


4. Permits & Notifications

In some cities, permits and/or notifications are required by law. In the City of Indianapolis, any temporary structure over 3,200 square feet requires a permit. Below 3,200 square feet, a Notification must be submitted online 5 days prior to installation. Other cities, like Carmel, Indiana, are much stricter and require permitting for ANY tent on commercial property. This includes a small structure like a 15’ x 15’ tent with open sides (see image below). The strictest city by far is the City of Lawrence requiring ALL tents to obtain a permit. Yes, that’s right. A homeowner having a small graduation party in his or her backyard is still required to obtain a permit from the City of Lawrence which can cost, at a minimum, $150.


15 x 15 Frame Tent
15 x 15 Frame Tent: Requires a Permit in Carmel, IN on Commercial Property


As a courtesy to you, A Classic Party Rental will obtain the Permit and submit the Notification on your behalf. For Permits, we are required to submit a layout, a diagram for the tent, a Certificate of Flame & Resistance as well as fill out the forms which can be online or may have to be hand delivered depending on the city.


Note: Permits are also required when setting up a stage over 30 inches in height. As a result, A Classic Party Rental will always recommend a maximum height of 24 inches unless special circumstances are not permitting. At that point, we will look to the renter to obtain all staging permitting.

Who knew tenting could be so complicated! A Classic Party Rental has Tent Specialists on site to make renting a tent easy. Our experience allows you to stick to the fun party of planning your event and leave the Permits, Notifications, Digging and worry to us!

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