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FIR-3.11 - Public Assembly Event Permits

Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority




A.  This policy is established May 2, 1991.


B.  The purpose of this policy is to provide clarity and uniformity in the issuance of public assembly permits.


C.  The policy shall apply within all areas in which the Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) has Fire Prevention authority.






1.  2007 Portland Fire Code (PFC), Chapter 10.


2.  NFPA 101, Life Safety Code.


3.  2010 Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC).


4.  Portland City Code Title 31.40.040.




1.  Annual Occupancy Permit: A permit that is renewed annually which covers the total public assembly occupancy and floor plans. Does not cover any specific event or performance.


2.  Bulk Space: Floor areas which DO NOT have established floor plans for the layout of fixtures, booths, exhibits, display products, etc. at the time of plan submittal. Bulk space areas are commonly shown on floor plans as a large blank area without aisles, booths, or fixtures, etc.


3.  Event: A temporary public assembly gathering of 500 or more people indoors or outdoors where more than 50 people are confined by fences. Events are gatherings which are not physically laid out in accordance with floor plans approved as part of an Annual Public Assembly Occupant Permit.




A.  Permits Required:


1.  Public Assembly Event permits are required for events held inside a structure when the calculated load exceeds 500 people. Permits are required for events such as trade shows, exhibits, conventions, meetings, food festivals, art festivals, or similar functions.


2.  Fenced outdoor events where 50 or more people may gather.


Exception: Public Assembly Event permits are not required for events at public assemblies which conform to seating plans approved under an Annual Occupancy Permit.


B.  Plan Submittal Requirements:


1.  Three copies of floor plans drawn to scale are required. It is permissible to use generic facility floor plans, such as those provided by the Convention Center, Expo Center, etc. However, if generic facility floor plans are used, and are not drawn to scale, then additional dimensions must be provided for booths, exhibits, etc. In general, the Fire Prevention Division will not approve floor plans which have not been approved by the Public Assembly Facility Management where applicable.


a.  Information required on plans:


-Location of hose cabinets          -Aisles


-Fixtures, booths, stages, etc.

-Overhead doors

-LPG tank locations

-Fire alarm pull stations

-Location of two-story booths


2.  A complete events questionnaire must be submitted with each set of floor plans.


3.  Submittal Deadline: Plans submitted 7 days or less before an event will be charged a double permit fee. Revisions may be submitted up to one week before an event date.


Exception: Revisions to plans may be made up to 7 days before an event if those revisions provide for increased exiting, fewer booths, etc. These revisions will NOT require additional fees. Revisions which add booths, reduce exit widths, or require code resolution will result in the applicant being charged a double fee.


C.  Plan Review Requirements:


1.  Aisles:


a.  Aisles shall be provided which lead directly to exit door "clusters".


b.  Minimum aisle width is 10 feet, or width of exit doors whichever is greater. Aisle widths, based on occupant load calculations, as required in the OSSC, may be allowed.


Exception: Where groups or "clusters" of exit doors exceed 20 feet in width, a 20-ft. wide "catchment" area may surround the exit door cluster. Aisles from other portions of the public assembly area must lead directly into the catchment area. These aisles must be large enough to accommodate the occupant load they serve. "Catchment" areas may be waived if, in the opinion of the reviewing inspector, adequate exiting is provided.


2.  Bulk Space:


a.  Objects such as autos, booths, boats, sales counters, display, etc., shall be spaced a minimum of 5 feet apart in bulk spaces to allow the free circulation of the public and ease of movement to exit aisles.


b. No bulk space or group spaces may exceed 3000 square feet, without having an aisle of 10 feet minimum width totally surrounding it.


Exception: 1) Bulk spaces may exceed 3000 square feet, if no point within the space is more than 30 feet from an approved aisle and no objects are closer than 5 feet. 2) Bulk spaces may be larger than 3000 square feet if no floor plan arrangements are submitted and approved for arrangement, aisle space, etc.


c.  A general description of the use of bulk spaces shall be provided on submitted plans for each bulk space area.


3.  Table and Chair Arrangements:


Floor plans for the table and chair arrangements must comply with NFPA 101, Life Safety Code.


4.  Calculating Occupant Load: Occupant loads will be calculated by using the figures noted below:


a.  7 sq. ft. per person for standup concerts or similar events up to 3500 sq. ft. of area.


b.  10 sq. ft. per person of standup concerts or similar events for over 3500 sq. ft. of area.


c.  15 sq. ft. per person for banquet-type seating such as dinner, etc.


d.  20 sq. ft. per person for trade shows with 20-foot catchment areas by exit doors.


e.  25 sq. ft. per person for trade shows with less than 20-foot catchment areas by exit doors.


f.  For uses not specified above, the OSSC, Chapter 10 shall be used.


5.  Bonding of Chairs: Bonding of chairs is required whenever more than 200 movable chairs are used for public assembly events.


6.  Multi-Story Exhibit Booths: All multi-story exhibits shall have exits as required by the OSSC for retail sales space at ground level. A battery-operated smoke alarm shall be provided in each level which is not open at the top. A fire extinguisher with a minimum classification of 2A:10B:C shall be provided for each 3,000 square feet of floor area. No two multi-story exhibit booths shall be within 20 feet of one another.


7.  Enclosed Structures: Display homes, recreational vehicles or similar enclosed structures, having more than 100-square feet floor area, shall be equipped with a battery-operated smoke alarm and one 2A:10B:C fire extinguisher. Where enclosed structures exceed 3000 square feet, one 2A:10B:C extinguisher and one battery operated smoke alarm shall be provided for each additional 3000 sq. ft.


8.  Roofs or Covers Over Exhibit Booths: All booth roofs or covers must be 70% open to allow proper sprinkler system operation. In general, roofs or covers are discouraged.


D.  Special Facility Use Notice Requirements:


1.  Operators of facilities which normally operate from approved Annual Occupancy Public Assembly seating plans, must provide 30-days notice to the Fire Marshal's Office of performances or facility uses which would be a change to their approved floor plans.



Originally adopted by Fire Marshal as Fire Prevention Division Policy Manual Document C-11, effective May 2, 1991, revised May 12, 1997.
Filed for inclusion in PPD June 13, 2003.
Revised administrative rule adopted by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD July 7, 2009.
Revised administrative rule adopted by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD August 25, 2011.
Revised administrative rule adopted by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD September 8, 2011.