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Fire Regulations for Assembly Occupancies

The information contained in this brief outline does not by any means thoroughly cover the criteria and standards contained in the Uniform Fire Code, as adopted by the City of Austin, but it does provide the fundamental rules governing exhibits in any building open to the public.

The following entities are responsible for ensuring all regulations are followed: facility client, exhibitors, service contractors and the Austin Convention Center Department (ACCD).  It is a requirement that ACCD reviews all event pre-planning documents and floor plans and is the only entity that can submit these documents to the Austin Fire Department for final review and approval.

Remember, the fire codes for Austin may be different from other cities, and exhibitors will be responsible for complying with the Uniform Fire code.  ACCD will take reasonable steps to ensure that you are allowed to display your products effectively, as long as it does not create a fire or life safety hazard to you, other exhibitors or people attending the exhibit.

Floor plans for all shows are to be submitted to ACCD for review and approval.  ACCD will submit the floor plans and event pre-planning documents to the Austin Fire Department’s Fire Marshal for approval.  An approved copy will be provided to the event client.  A copy of the approved plans must be available on-site.

No display or exhibit shall be installed or operated as to interfere with access to or with the visibility of any required exit or exit sign, nor shall any display block access to fire equipment. 

Any exhibit containing a roofed area of 100 square feet or more requires a fire extinguisher to be displayed at such exhibit.

All exhibit booths must maintain clear and appropriate exits from the booth.  Any booth of 750 square feet or more must have a minimum of two exits as far from each other as possible.

Displays with any type of cover, e.g., tents, buildings, awnings, etc. must be 300 square feet or less; if larger than 300 square feet they must meet the following regulations:

  • A single level or multi-level exhibit larger than 300 square feet with a covered ceiling requires protection from an automatic extinguishing system.
  • A booth with an open grate style ceiling does not have to meet this requirement.  If there is any question, please forward a copy of the booth plans for ACCD and Fire Department review.
  • The upper deck of the multi-level exhibit must have a minimum of two exits as far from each other as possible.  If only one (1) exit, the second level is limited to seven (7) people at a time.

The storage of crates and combustible materials not on display (including packing materials) is not permitted inside the facility, on the dock or at dock bays.  Limited empty crate storage is provided and confined to the area authorized by the Fire Marshal.

All curtains, drapes, any merchandise or material attached to drapes or table skirts, decorations and decorative or construction materials are to be non-combustible or flame-retardant.  Documentation affirming non-combustible or flame-retardant properties must be available on-site.

Combustible waste is to be collected as it accumulates and should be stored in a non-combustible covered container which is emptied at least once a day.

The use of open flames, burning or smoke-emitting materials (candles, incense, lanterns) are not permitted in the facility.

Electrical equipment is to be installed, operated and maintained in a manner which does not create a hazard to life or property.

Whenever, in the opinion of the Austin Fire Department, it is essential for public safety in any place of public assembly, the owner, agent or lessee shall employ one or more qualified persons to be on duty.  These individuals shall be subject to the Austin Fire Department’s orders and shall be in uniform and remain on duty during the times such places are open to the public.  Any fees are the responsibility of the client.

The following items may not be used without prior written approval of the Fire Marshal’s Office:

  • Display or storage of LPG (liquid propane gas)
  • Flammable or combustible liquids
  • Flammable gas
  • Cotton, hay, paper, straw, moss, split bamboo, wood chips, etc. All items must be treated with fire-retardant materials. Documentation affirming non-combustible of flame-retardant properties must be available on-site.
  • Welding or cutting equipment for show set-up or for demonstration purposes
  • Gas-fired appliances for demonstration purposes
  • Salamander stoves
  • Compressed gas cylinders. If approved, cylinders are to be firmly secured in an upright position.
  • Any cooking or heat-producing devices

The following are related to the display of automotive vehicles and equipment:

  • There is to be no more than five gallons of fuel or 1/4 the capacity of the fuel tank, whichever is less.
  • Fuel tanks are to be locked and all portable tanks removed.  Locking the auto will be sufficient for cars in which the gas cap cover can only be unlatched from inside the vehicle.        
  • Ignition keys are to be removed and placed in a central location on site.
  • The positioning of such vehicles shall be subject to approval of the Fire Marshal’s Office.    
  • Vehicle operation will be limited to brief parade-type displays specifically approved by the Fire Marshal’s Office.
  • Vehicles, boats and similar exhibited products having over 100 square feet of roofed area are to have a smoke detector.

The following related to food shows:

  • Deep fat fryers are not allowed in the facility.
  • Chafing dishes are to be designed with a shelf for the fuel or chafing dish is to be placed on a sheet pan.

Public display of compressed flammable or toxic gases, hazardous materials, Class II, III or IV laser, blasting agents and explosives is only permitted after a review of the materials and/or devices is conducted and the proposed display has received approval of the Fire Marshal’s Office.