Vendors Concerned About Proposed Tent Regulations

By Linda Ong |

Published 07/31 2014 06:50PM

Updated 07/31 2014 07:44PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Tent companies will soon have to follow new rules from the Springfield Fire Department. Vendors first learned about the proposal in a letter sent last week. The regulations affect permitting and installation of tents within the city. Both the fire department and tent owners agree that safety of the public is a top priority, but many vendors worry how the new regulations will affect their businesses.

At a meeting on Thursday, vendors met with representatives from the Department to voice their concerns.

"What we want is safe tents," said Springfield Fire Chief David Hall.

It's this concern that prompted the Springfield Fire Department to propose regulations for tents within the city.

"As we've been out inspecting these more, we found how much variation there is between how they're secured and that raises concern," said Hall.

According to the proposed regulations, tents and canopies 400 square feet or larger would be subject to a set of guidelines. Part of the proposal would require tent owners to obtain a permit, rather than the renter, five days before an event.

Tent owners, like David Woosley of All Events Rental, said the proposal would hurt businesses.

"Once we install, the fire marshal comes out, he inspects, says yeah we're good to go, soon as they leave, the whole site run out of control for what happens under the tent," said Woosley. "So they could do a major violation such as untying a rope, in case could cause a liability issue for that structure to come down in case of major weather."

Vendors would also have to hire a licensed engineer to establish requirements to ensure tents are properly secured at a site.

Woosley said it's been a challenge searching for engineers and it would be another cost to pass on to customers.

The Fire Department said injuries and fatalities nationwide make the regulations necessary.

"It puts everyone on the same level playing field so we know exactly how to check to make sure if are they complying or are they not," said Hall.

Tent owners said the guidelines need to and can be changed to help both vendors and the Fire Department.

"We can benefit every person in Springfield and give them a higher assurance that when a tent is installed, it's done safely," said Woosley.

Woosley said he is in the process of proposing licensed tent installers to replace engineers to inspect tent securing requirements.

According to the city's fire code, the Fire Department has the authority to go forth with the proposed plan.

Hall said he wants to move quickly on the proposal to minimize potential risk, but is open to suggestions.

The regulations are set to go into effect October 1st.

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