Fire Department Permits for Events


When hosting special events on a UW campus, a permit from your local fire department may be required. Additional permits may be required, depending on the circumstances of the event. Refer to the information below to determine the permits you need and how to apply.

Outdoor events

An outdoor event is any event that takes place on University property outside of a permanent building. It may include the use of tents, canopies, air inflated structures, bleachers, barricades, platforms and stages.

Fire department permits are required for outdoor assembly events, public and private, when the attendance exceeds 99 people, if enclosed with barricades or fencing, or when the attendance exceeds 499 persons in open areas.

Permits for Outdoor Events

While a fire department permit is required for any event described above, additional permits are also required for:

  • Propane barbecues and grills, open flames (including charcoal grills) and candles when used in conjunction with an outdoor assembly event
  • Tents with walls that exceed 400 square feet (see example)
  • Tents without walls (also known as canopies, see example) that exceed 700 square feet in size
  • Groupings of open-sided tents or canopies with no walls that cover an area of over 700 square feet or have less than 12 feet of clearance to other tents or buildings
  • Air supported or air inflated items, such as giant movie screens, giant slides and other climb-on pieces
  • Fireworks, pyrotechnics and fire dancers

The Event Permit Flowchart or the Frequently Asked Questions (below) may help you determine which permit you may need if your event is located on the Seattle campus.

For events outside the Seattle area, please contact your local fire department.

Staked tents

Most utilities on the Seattle campus were installed decades ago. With erosion and settling, utilities such as gas and water lines may be closer to the surface than expected. Tent installation companies should be reminded to call 8-1-1 prior to penetrating the ground with stakes.

Indoor events

A fire department permit may be required for an indoor event when a building will be used for something other than its intended and approved use.

Some examples:

  • A haunted house
  • A dance in a library
  • A dining event in space not typically used for dining
  • A dignitary presentation scheduled for an atrium or other large common space not intended as a major assembly venue

Exiting and emergency systems are designed for the intended use; a special event that introduces many people, seating, tables or hazards such as candles, pyrotechnics or other fire hazards may not be permitted or may require a special permit. In any case, planning is needed and EH&S is available to assist.

Contact EH&S or your local fire department to find out if you need to apply for a Temporary Place of Assembly permit.

If your event is occurring in the Seattle area, find out more information in the Special Events section of the Seattle Fire Department website.

For events outside the Seattle area, please contact your local fire department.

Food permits

A Temporary Food Service Permit is required for most events open to the public at which food will be served.

Find out more about food safety and find out how to apply for the Temporary Food Service Permit on our website.

Frequently asked questions


For more information about hosting special events on the Seattle campus, contact EH&S or visit the Special Events section of the Seattle Fire Department website. A Seattle Fire Department special events officer can reached at 206.386.1450.

For Seattle campus events, submit permit application(s) at least 30 days before the event to avoid additional fees.

For events off of the Seattle campus, contact your local fire department/district. A list of Fire Department contact information can be found on the Fire Department Contact Information sheet.

If you have further questions or would like EH&S to help plan your event and get the right permits, please contact us.



Building and Fire Safety Contact

(206) 685-0341