Special Events / Indoor Exhibits / Trade Show Permit Information

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Temporary Tents and Air-Inflated Structures Fireworks/Pyrotechnics Carnival & Fair, Outdoor Event and/or Street Festival Public Assemblages & Events: Special Amusement Building Bon Fire/Open Flame Performance: Indoor Exhibit and Trade Shows: Pre-Event Inspection Inspection of Exits Permit application Fire-watch required Fire Safety and Evacuation Plans Checklists and Supplemental Applications

The City of Raleigh, Office of the Fire Marshal is charged with inspecting and permitting special events in all areas of the City. Our mission is to provide for the safety and welfare of all who attend these events. A permit for special events requires a pre-approval process, including a site inspection. Complete and return the applicable permit application within two weeks prior to your planned event. In addition, an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) must accompany the permit application for Assembly events where 1,000 people congregate.

Please read the sections below to make sure which permits are needed in which supplemental information must be included with your permit application. Please have the supplemental information ready for upload before beginning the online permit form.

The links below will provide access to permit checklists, applications and forms.

For more information:
Office of the Fire Marshal
310 W. Martin St
PO Box 590
Raleigh, NC 27602
Phone: 919-996-6392 Fax: 919-831-6180

Temporary Tents and Air-Inflated Structures

A tent permit is required for each tent/structure in excess of the following:

  1. Each tent(s) with side walls in excess of 800 square feet.
  2. Each tent(s) without side walls in excess  of 1800  square feet.
  3. Each Inflatable structure(s) in which people make entry, that are in excess of 400 square feet.
    1. Tent Contactors are required to apply for permits. Include a detailed site plan indicating location of tents in relation to buildings and roadways. (google map is sufficient)
    2. Provide certificate of non-flammability for all tent(s) used.
    3. Tent(s) with seating greater than 50 require a seating plan indicating arrangement of seating, aisle widths, and exits.
    4. A site inspection will be scheduled and conducted before approval to occupy and prior to the event starting.

Tents on state owned property require a permit issued by the N.C. Department of Administration.

NC Department of Administration
State Construction, New Education Building
301 North Wilmington Street. Suite 450
Raleigh, NC 27601
State Property Tent Permit Application


Outdoor or indoor fireworks displays, use of pyrotechnics before a proximate audience and pyrotechnic special effects in motion picture, television, theatrical and group entertainment productions require a permit. In addition, propane or other open flame devices produced by  an individual or machine also require this permit.

Carnival & Fair, Outdoor Event and/or Street Festival

A permit is required for events that meet the definitions list below.

  1. Carnival: a traveling amusement show, having sideshows, rides, etc.
  2. Fair: an exhibition, usually competitive, of farm products, livestock, etc., often combined in the U.S. with entertainment and held annually by a county or state.
  3. Circus and/or festival: a large public entertainment, typically presented in one or more very large tents or in an outdoors or  an  indoor  arena,  featuring  exhibitions  of pageantry, feats of skill and daring, performing animals, etc., interspersed throughout with the slapstick antics of clowns.

Public Assemblages & Events:

A detailed emergency action plan is required for a Carnival & Fair, Outdoor Event and/or Street Festival where attendance more than 1,000 people congregate, or where required by the Office of the Fire Marshal. The plan must be reviewed and approved before the event, which identifies safety requirements that are listed in section 403.2 of the North Carolina Fire Code and can be found in the attached sample Public Safety Plan.

Special Amusement Building

A building that is temporary, permanent, or mobile that contains a device or system that conveys passengers or provides a walkway along, or over a course in any direction as a form of amusement arranged so that the egress path is not readily apparent due to visual or audio distraction or an intentionally confounded egress path, or is not readily available because of the mode of conveyance through the building or structure.

Bon Fire/Open Flame Performance:

Bonfires and/or open flame performances before an audience require a permit.

Sky lanterns are not be permitted in the City of Raleigh.

Indoor Exhibit and Trade Shows:

A permit is required for events that meet the definition listed below.

An exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services, study activities of rivals, and examine recent market trends and opportunities. Example: Car shows, art exhibits.

Pre-Event Inspection

Pre-event fire safety inspections are the responsibility of the Raleigh Convention Center to schedule with the Office of the Fire Marshal. Events requiring a permit(s) through the N.C. State Fire Code are required to have a Fire Marshal approval before occupancy and use. Inspections may be conducted during the move in or tear down of an event. Spot inspections may also be conducted during the actual event hours. Building management shall be responsible for correction of fire code violation(s) found. All violations are required to be corrected within the time  determined by the Fire Marshal. An attached checklist is provided as a guide to the general fire code requirements that are applicable to you event. The trade show and/or exhibition shall not be permitted to open without the approval of a City of Raleigh Fire Marshal.

Inspection of Exits

Not more than 90 minutes prior to the scheduled commencement of any non-continuous activity, event, performance, show, meeting, function, or other occasion for which persons will gather at a place of assembly, the  owner, authorized designee and/or fire-watch personnel shall inspect every required exit, way of approach thereto, and way of departure there from.

Permit application

Applications for a fire code permit must be completed in advance of any event and contain the following:

  1. Floor plan showing the layout of all vendor areas.
  2. Seating plan showing table and chair and stage layouts.
  3. Location of all exits and arrangement of aisles.
  4. Location of any hazardous materials, flammable liquids, or compressed gases.
  5. Completed fire code permit application. (attached below)
  6. Number of vehicles on display inside assembly building.

All fire code permits are required to be issued by a City of Raleigh, Office of the Fire Marshal designee. An exhibit and trade show permit is required before the show can open to the public.

Fire-watch required

Fire-watch is required whenever the fire alarm system is placed in event mode with the occupancy expected to reach 2,000 persons; pyrotechnics; open-flame performances; open–flame devices; and enclosed exhibits. Other conditions may require fire-watch due to the complexity of the event planned and will be determined during the pre-event inspections. Fire-watch, if needed, will be coordinated through  management at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Raleigh Convention Center security staff and fire-watch personnel are required to ensure that the fire alarm system is placed in “Event Mode” before the event starts. Responsibilities of fire-watch personnel are as follows, but not exclusively limited to:

  • Arrive at least 90 minutes prior to the start of an event requiring fire-watch to conduct a pre-event inspection of exits.
  • Maintain control of entire facility during the pre-planned event.
  • Coordinate with security staff and maintenance supervisors on placement of the FACP in the Event Mode.
  • Participate in a briefing with security staff and event managers prior to the event starting.
  • Ensure any required fire code permits are provided for and posted in the Fire Command Center.

Fire Safety and Evacuation Plans

You as an exhibitor should become familiar with the fire safety and evacuation plans in advance of your planned event. All of your staff should also review the exit arrangement and requirements in the event of an emergency.

Checklists and Supplemental Applications

Please refer to the checklists on the Tent Permit and pre-event checklists on the next two pages if applicable to make sure you have all needed paperwork before  completing your permit application. You will be given the opportunity to upload any supplemental plans, layouts or forms at the end of the application. Please refer to the checklists and have the supplemental information ready before beginning your permit application



Office of the Fire Marshal
310 W. Martin St
PO Box 590
Raleigh, NC 27602

Fax: 919-831-6180


Lead Department: