Safety Measures for Halloween Haunted Houses and Carnivals
For Release
September 26, 2013
Halloween season is a fun time of the year; yet, it is a time when life-safety issues surrounding the public become a concern. We take this opportunity to remind all non-profit organizations, merchants, and school personnel of their responsibility to ensure the safety of their patrons during operation of these activities and events.

Annually, fire and rescue departments, across the country, report fatal fires involving haunted houses, corn mazes and similar haunted-house type structures and environments. To avoid similar occurrences, please observe the following precautions and regulations in preparing your haunted house or carnival:

1. Highly flammable materials such as cotton batting, straw, dried plant material, certain plastics, etc. shall not be used for decorations or construction.

2. Avoid use of combustible materials in displays.  If used, combustibles must be treated with an approved commercial flame-retardant treatment.  Samples of all such materials must be submitted to this office for flame tests prior to use.

3. Extension cords, multiplug adapters, and unfused plug strips are not permitted.  Only circuit breaker strips or code approved wiring is permitted.

4. If any walls, partitions, or raised flooring are to be constructed, approval by the Department of Public Works will be required (703-792-6935).

5. Depending on where the activity is located, approval from the Zoning Division of the Planning Office through a Temporary Activities Permit (TAP) review process may be required (703-792-6830).

6. Call this office for an inspection at least 48 hours prior to opening your display to the public (703-792-6360).

7. Maintain all exits in a clear and useable condition.

8. Know the location of the nearest fire extinguishers and how to use them.

9. Know the location of the nearest alarm box.

10. Make sure a telephone is available to call the fire department and that everyone knows the emergency number: 9-1-1.

11.  Develop an Emergency Evacuation and Fire Safety Plan, plan document is part of application packet.

If the above precautions and regulations are followed, we feel confident you will have a safe and a happy Halloween.

An application process is required for haunted houses and carnivals.  Please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-792-6360 for further direction.