Tents and Other Membrane Structures

Utilize the resources on this page to apply for a Tent and Membrane Structure Permit

Tents and Other Membrane Structures are temporary, and so, the County’s building and fire codes allow placement for only 180 days within a 12-month period. To address these codes, Arlington County has developed the following policy:

• Structures less than 120 square feet are allowed through the TOSA process and may remain in place for the duration of the TOSA.

• Tents larger than 900 square feet, tents on rooftops, and structures more than 120 square feet require permits. Schedule a code consultation with ISD to discuss.

• For temporary tents larger than 120 square feet but less than 900 square feet:

▪ Businesses may apply through the Fire Prevention Office for a inspection/permit for the placement of a new temporary tent. Businesses must insure they meet the requirements of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, Chapter 31 Tents and Other Membrane Structure. (see provided check sheet(PDF, 691KB) for assistance)

▪ If approved, businesses must wait 180 days (6 months) after the removal of the existing tent to install a new, approved temporary tent.

July 2022 TOSA Updates


Please contact the Fire Prevention Office for consultation and to request an inspection

TOSA / Tent and Other Membrane Structure Code Modification Request

Businesses with an approved tent under the TOSA program, you may be eligible for this application process. 
Please utilize these documents to assist you in applying for a Fire Code Modification
Before starting, please read the TOSA Update Letter
  1. TOSA Update Letter(PDF, 182KB)
  2. (PDF, 182KB)ACFD Fire Prevention Code Modification Checklist(PDF, 371KB)
  3. (PDF, 371KB)Fire Code Modification Application(PDF, 939KB)
Applications must be addressed to Chief Fire Marshal, Fire Prevention Office, 1020 N. Hudson St., Arlington VA 22201. Request may be submitted via hand delivery, U.S. mail, fax or e-mail. Requests submitted via fax or e-mail must have an original and signed copy received within 7 business days.  



Chapter 31 Tents and Other Membrane Structures


Section 3101 General 3101.1 Scope Tents, temporary stage canopies, and membrane structures shall comply with this chapter.

The provisions of Section 3103 are applicable only to temporary tents and membrane structures. The provisions of Section 3104 are applicable to temporary and permanent tents and membrane structures. Other temporary structures shall comply with the applicable building code.

Section 3103 Temporary Tents and Membrane Structures

3103.1 General Tents and membrane structures used for temporary periods shall comply with this section. Other temporary structures erected for a period of 180 days or less shall comply with the applicable building code.

3103.2 Approval Required Tents and membrane structures having an area in excess of 900 square feet (84 m2 ) shall not be erected, operated or maintained for any purpose without first obtaining a permit and approval from the fire code official in accordance with Table 107.2.

3103.2.1 Multiple Tents The aggregate area of multiple tents separated by less than 12 feet (3658 mm) shall not exceed 900 square feet unless approved in accordance with Section 3103.2.

3103.3 Place of Assembly For the purposes of this chapter, a place of assembly shall include a circus, carnival, tent show, theater, skating rink, dance hall or other place of assembly in or under which persons gather for any purpose.

3103.4 Permits Permits shall be required as set forth in Section 107.2.

3103.5 Use Period Temporary tents, air-supported, air-inflated or tensioned membrane structures shall not be erected for a period of more than 180 days within a 12-month period on a single premises.  

For more information on Fire Code specific to Tents and other Membrane Structures Click Here(PDF, 839KB) 



Fire Prevention Office

1020 N. Hudson St.
Arlington, VA 22201

703-228-4655 (fax)

Contact Us

Call 911 for Emergencies
703-558-2222 (Non-emergency requests)
703-228-3362 (Fire Chief’s Office) Email
703-228-4644 (Fire Prevention) Email
571-242-0271 (Media Relations) Email

703-228-0098 (Employment) Email


TTY 703-228-4611