Compiled by Juli Case
I’m having a hard time figuring out how far from the fabric the lights on my rental tents need to be hung. The fabric the tents are made from is certified to the California State Fire Marshal requirements, but the people I’ve talked to in their office tell me that doesn’t apply. Can you direct me?
A flammability test, such as the California State Fire Marshal’s Title 19, will tell you specific things about the fabric’s flammability characteristics, but only those characteristics that the test has been designed to assess. No flammability test we’re familiar with will tell you how far from the fabric that you need to hang your lights. If you’re worried about damaging the fabric, contact your supplier for a recommended temperature range and then determine what temperature your lights give off. More importantly, you need to check the International Fire Code (IFR), the code that applies for structures that are installed for 180 days or less. In Section 2404.9 (Spot Lighting) of Chapter 24 (Tents, Canopies and Other Membrane Structures), the subject of spot lighting is addressed. To paraphrase, spot or effect lights need to be electric and, if closer to combustible material than six feet, need to be protected with a noncombustible insulation that’s at least 9.25 inches thick. If you’re not familiar with the IFR, we strongly recommend that you read up on it. If you don’t want to purchase a copy, you should be able to find it in the reference section of your local library.