Apply for a Temporary Tent or Canopy Permit

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Temporary patio and covered patio
standards apply during COVID emergency

In order to meet the need for outdoor restaurant seating, consistent with Oregon Health Authority (OHA) COVID-19 guidance, temporary structure permits may be approved under a new set of design standards listed here.

These standards will be applied for as long as the City's Declaration of Emergency is in effect. When it expires, structures permitted under temporary standards must be removed or modified to meet City standards within two weeks. 

City of Salem emergency standards for temporary structures

    1. Temporary structures may encroach on existing setbacks, occupy existing parking lots, and exceed lot coverage or allowable square footage limits defined by the zone as long as the structure does not:  

      • obstruct pre-existing paths and sidewalks; all paths and sidewalks will maintain the minimum requirements for safe egress.

      • diminish the pre-existing space dedicated to vehicular driveways.

      • damage or cause the removal of existing, pre-approved landscaping.    

      • diminish the pre-existing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) parking spaces and access points

      • tents and temporary structures must be movable by one person and without mechanical equipment

    1. Temporary structures will be reviewed and approved through the City's pre-existing Tent Permit process.

      1. If your tent is 400 square feet or larger, a City permit is required. For questions about the requirements for tents larger than 400 SF, please contact the Permit Application Center at 503-588-6256.
        Apply for Tent Over 400 Square Feet

      2. If your tent is less than 400 square feet, you need to certify that your tent meets applicable safety requirements. For questions about the requirements for tents less than 400 SF, please contact the City Planner’s Desk at 503-588-6213.
        Apply for Tent Under 400 Square Feet

    2. The processing fee of $12.50 will be waived when improvements are clearly designed for the sole purpose of providing temporary solutions that satisfy OHA COVID-19 guidelines. Additionally, we will waive a $100 "special event fee."

    3. Temporary structures will remain subject to all building safety codes, fire and life safety codes, and unified development codes not specifically addressed in these temporary allowances. In addition, all pre-existing noise, lighting, and signage standards will remain active requirements of any site.

    4. Permits may be granted for up to six months and can be renewed at the applicant's request, subject to a successful inspection, at any point from the time of approval to the time of the emergency declaration's expiration.

    5. Permits may be revoked at any point that the temporary structure is deemed unsafe or non-compliant with any of the standards that apply. 

State requirements - emergency standards for temporary structures

The State has adopted COVID guidelines and restrictions for eating and drinking establishments. Please read and adhere to these guidelines to be in compliance with the State.

​Regular temporary structure standards

If you want to set up a temporary tent, canopy, air-supported structure or membrane structure, you need to get a permit. Temporary tents can be erected on private property as long as the use, setbacks and parking comply with the zoning code.

Tents may be placed in parking lots, across existing parking spaces, as long as businesses maintain adequate circulation, clear and accessible drive aisles in their parking lot and their minimum number of required parking spaces.

Tents associated with Christmas Tree Sales may require an additional permit for the temporary use, depending on the zoning of the property.

Check with the Planning Division to determine what setbacks, parking or other restrictions may apply. Tents may not be placed in the public right-of-way unless associated with an event permit issued by the City. Permanent awnings and coverings may require land use applications and building permits.

Tents must also be inspected by the Salem Fire Department and meet the requirements of the current Oregon Fire Code.

Application process

  1. Complete and submit a tent or canopy permit application.

  2. Submit the required documentation listed on the application (sample site plan and tent layout). More information on the process is included on this form.

Rules for tent and canopy use

  1. Any tent, regardless of size, shall be flame retardant.

  2. All displays or other type of concessions that use a heat/flame producing appliance shall be required to have a minimum of one 2A:10B:C fire extinguisher.

  3. Hoods and ducts with automatic fire protection and portable fire extinguishers, as specified in the State of Oregon Structural Specialty Code, Mechanical Specialty Code, and the Oregon Fire Code or as approved by the City of Salem Fire Chief, shall be required in the following circumstances:

    • All concession stands and tents over 400 square feet using deep fat fryers or fry grills inside

    • All canopies over 700 square feet using deep fat fryers or fry grills inside

  4. Flammable or combustible liquids and LP-gas shall not be stored in a tent or canopy. They must be located outside of any tent or canopy.

  5. Tents may be used for a period of not more than 180 days within a 12-month period on a single premise.

Inspection requirements

It is the responsibility of the applicant and installer to ensure that tents, canopies, air-supported and membrane structures meet all requirements the current Oregon Fire Code. The structure may not be used until the Salem Fire Department has inspected it and granted written approval.

Access.  Fire apparatus access roads shall be provided within 150 feet of all structures.  Roads shall be not less than 20 feet wide and have an unobstructed vertical clearance of not less than 13 feet 6 inches.  The road surface shall be designed to provide all-weather driving capabilities.  Approved provisions for the turning around of fire apparatus shall be provided when a dead-end road exceeds 150 feet.  Access roads shall be approved prior to construction (OFC-Section 503). (OFC 3103.8.1)

Location and Parking.  Tents shall not be located within 20 feet of property lines, buildings, temporary membrane structures, other tents and canopies, parked vehicles or internal combustion engines.  For the purpose of determining required distances, support ropes and guide wires shall be considered as part of the temporary membrane structure, tent or canopy. (OFC 3103.8.2)      


  1. Separation distances between temporary membrane structures, tents and canopies, not used for cooking, are not required when the aggregate floor area does not exceed 15,000 square feet.

  2. Membrane structures or tents need not be separated from buildings where all of the following conditions are met:

    1. The aggregate floor area of the membrane structure or tent shall not exceed 10,000 square feet (929 m2).

    2. The aggregate floor area of the building and membrane structure or tent shall not exceed the allowable floor area including increases as indicated in the International Building Code.

    3. Required means of egress are provided for both the building and the membrane structure or tent including travel distances.

    4. Fire apparatus access roads are provided in accordance with Section 503.

General. Temporary membrane structures, tents and canopies and their appurtenance shall be adequately braced and anchored to prevent weather related collapse.  Documentation of structural stability shall be furnished to the chief on request. (OFC 3103.9)

Air-supported and Inflated Structures.  The design and construction of the fabric envelope, the method of anchoring, and inflation system for air-supported and air-inflated structures shall be in accordance with the Building Code. (OFC 3103.10)

The sidewalls, drops and tops of temporary membrane structures, tents and canopies shall be composed of flame-resistant material or shall be treated with a flame retardant in an approved manner.  Floor coverings, bunting, combustible decorative materials and effects, including sawdust when used on floors or passageways, shall be composed of flame-resistant material or shall be treated with a flame retardant in an approved manner.  (OFC 3104.1)

Certification. An affidavit or affirmation shall be submitted to the fire code official and a copy retained on the premises on which the tent or air-supported structure is located. The affidavit shall attest to all of the following information relative to the flame propagation performance criteria of the fabric (OFC 3104.4):

  1. Names and address of the owners of the tent or air-supported structure.

  2. Date the fabric was last treated with flame-retardant solution.

  3. Trade name or kind of chemical used in treatment.

  4. Name of person or firm treating the material.

  5. Name of testing agency and test standard by which the fabric was tested.

General. Portable fire extinguishers shall be provided as required by Section 906. {OFC 3105.9)

 A fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2-A:10B:C shall be provided for every 3000 square feet of area or 75 feet of travel distance and shall be mounted so the top is not over 5 feet above the ground.  Signs may be required to show the location of the fire extinguisher if the extinguisher is not clearly visible. (OFC 906)

Tents & Canopies associated with Firework Sales shall have a minimum of one 2-A (2 1/2 gallon water) fire extinguisher. (OAR's)

Commercial Cooking Operations.  For commercial-type food heat-processing equipment that produces grease-laden vapors an approved portable fire extinguisher having a "K-Guard" rating shall be installed within 30 feet of commercial food heat-processing equipment, as measured along an unobstructed path of travel in accordance with NFPA 10.

Occupancy and means of egress. The number and location of emergency egress and escape routes shall be approved by the fire code official. (OFC 3106.3)

Occupant load. The fire code official shall establish an occupant load for the event site. (OFC 3106.3.1)

Occupant Load Posting. Any room having an occupant load of 50 or more where fixed seats are not installed, and which is used for assembly purposes, shall have the capacity of the room posted in a conspicuous place on an approved sign near the main exit from the room.  Such signs shall be maintained legible by the owner or the owner's authorized agent and shall indicate the number of occupants permitted for each room's use.  The number of persons in the building or portion thereof shall not exceed the amount determined as specified in the Building Code.  Overcrowding and admittance of persons beyond the approved capacity of a place of assembly are prohibited.  If the occupancy is overcrowded, exits or aisles are blocked the chief may stop the performance, presentation, spectacle or entertainment until such condition or obstruction is corrected. (OFC 1004)

Seating arrangements. Seating in tents or membrane structures shall be in accordance with Chapter 10. (OFC 3103.11)

Spacing.  When seating rows have 14 or fewer seats, the minimum clear width between rows shall not be less than 12 inches.  For rows of seating served by aisles or doorways at both ends. There shall be no more than 100 seats per row and the minimum clear width of 12 inches between rows shall be increased by 0.3 inches for every additional seat beyond 14, but the clear width need not exceed 22 inches.  (See OFC 1028 for further limitations).  For rows of seating served by an aisle or a doorway at one end only, the minimum clear width of 12 inches between rows shall be increased by 0.6 inches for every additional seat beyond 7 but need not exceed 22 inches.  (OFC 1029)

Bonding.  Loose seats shall be bonded in groups of three or more when there are 200 or more chairs are provided unless used for dining or similar purposes.  (OFC Section 1029.15 #4)

TABLE 3103.12.S



TentMembrane Structure
10 to 19927236
200 to 49937272
500 to 99949672
1,000 to 1,999512096
2,000 to 2,999612096
Over 3,000*712096

1 inch = 25.4 millimeters

*When the occupant load exceeds 3,000, the total width of means of egress (in inches) shall not be less than the total occupant load multiplied by 0.2 inches per person.

Distribution.  Exits shall be spaced at approximately equal intervals around the perimeter of the temporary membrane structure, tent or canopy and shall be located such that all points are 100 feet or less from an exit. (OFC  3103.12.1)

Number.  Every tent and temporary membrane structure or usable portion thereof shall have at least one exit and not less than the number of exits required by (OFC-Table 3103.12.2)

Exit Openings. Exit openings from tents shall remain open unless covered by a flame-resistant curtain, provided (OFC 3103.12.3}:

  1. Curtains shall be free sliding on a metal support. The support shall be a minimum of 8 feet above the floor level at the exit. The curtains shall be so arranged that, when open, no part of  the curtain obstructs the exit, and

  2. Curtains shall be of a color, or colors, which contrast with the color of the tent.

Doors.  Exit doors shall swing in the direction of exit travel.  To avoid hazardous pressure loss from air-supported structures, such doors shall be automatic closing against operating pressures.  Opening force at the door edge shall be in accordance with the Building Code. (OFC 3103.12.4)

Aisles. Aisles shall be provided from all occupied portions of the exit access, which contains seats, tables, furnishings, displays, and similar fixtures or equipment.  Aisles located within an accessible route of travel shall also comply with the Building Code requirements for accessibility. (OFC  3103.12.5)

Width in occupancies without fixed seats.  The width of aisles in occupancies without fixed seats shall be provided in accordance with the following:

  1. In areas serving employees only, the minimum aisle width shall be 24 inches, but not less than the   width required by the number of employees served.

  2. In public areas of Groups B and M Occupancies, the minimum clear aisle width shall be 36 inches where seats, tables, counters, furnishings, displays and similar fixtures or equipment are placed on one side of the aisle only and 44 inches when such fixtures or equipment are placed on both sides of the aisle.

Places of Assembly.  Aisles in Group A Occupancies shall comply with OFC Section 1028. When aisles converge to form a single path of exit travel; the aisle width shall not be less than the combined required width of the converging aisle.  Where fixed seats are arranged in rows the clear width of aisles shall not be less than that required by OFC Section 1028.9.1 and not less than:

  • 42 inches for aisles having seating on both sides
  • 36 inches for aisles having seating on one side.

Maintenance of means of egress. The required width of exits, aisles and passageways shall be maintained at all times to a public way. Guy wires, guy ropes and other support members shall not cross a means of egress at a height of less than 8 feet (2438 .mm). The surface of means of egress shall be maintained in an approved manner. (OFC 3103.12.8)

Means of egress illumination. Means of egress shall be illuminated with light having an intensity of not less than 1 foot-candle (11 lux) at floor level while the structure is occupied. Fixtures required for means of egress illumination shall be supplied from a separate circuit or source of power.  (OFC 3103.12.7)

Exit signs

When exit signs are required.  Exit signs shall be installed at required exit doorways and where otherwise necessary to clearly indicate the direction of egress when the exit serves an occupant load of 50 or more. (OFC 3103.12.6)

Exit sign illumination.  Exit signs in temporary membrane structures, tents and canopies with occupant loads of more than 100 persons shall be of an approved self-luminous type or shall be internally or externally illuminated by fixtures supplied in the following manner:

  1. Two separate circuits, one of which shall be separate from all other circuits, for occupant loads of 300 or less, or

  2. Two separate sources of power, one of which shall be an approved emergency system, shall be  provided when the occupant load exceeds 300.  Emergency systems shall be supplied from storage batteries or on-site generator set, and the system shall be installed in accordance with the Electrical Code. (OFC 3103.12.6.1)

Exit signs: shall be affixed adjacent to all exits. Signs shall be of a color that is contrasting to sign's background.

Smoking. Smoking shall be permitted only in designated areas. Other areas shall have approved "No Smoking" signs must be conspicuously posted and maintained in accordance with Section 310. (OFC 3107.3)

Fireworks. Fireworks shall not be used within 100 feet (30 480 mm) of tents or membrane structures. (OFC 3107.5)

Open or exposed flame. Open flame or other devices emitting flame, fire or heat or any flammable or combustible liquids, gas, charcoal or other cooking device or any other unapproved devices shall not be permitted inside or located within 20 feet (6096 mm) of the tent or membrane structures while open to the public unless approved by the fire code official. (3107.4)

Installation. Heating or cooking equipment, tanks, piping, hoses, fittings, valves, tubing and other related components shall be installed as specified in the International Mechanical Code and the International Fuel Gas Code and shall be approved by the fire code official. (OFC 3107.12.1)

Venting. Gas, liquid and solid fuel-burning equipment designed to be vented shall be vented to the outside air as specified in the International Fuel Gas Code and the International Mechanical Code. Such vents shall be equipped with approved spark arresters where required. Where vents or flues are used, all portions of the tent or membrane structure shall be not less than 12 inches (305 mm) from the flue or vent. (OFC 3107.12.2)

Location. Cooking and heating equipment shall not be located within 10 feet (3,048 mm) of exits or combustible materials. (OFC 3107.12.3)

Operations. Operations such as warming of foods, cooking demonstrations and similar operations that use solid flammables, butane or other similar devices that do not pose an ignition hazard, shall be approved. (OFC 3107.12.4)

Cooking tents. Tents with sidewalls or drops where cooking is performed shall be separated from other tents or membrane structures by not less than 20 feet (6,096 mm). (OFC 3107.12.5)

Outdoor cooking. Outdoor cooking that produces sparks or grease-laden vapors shall not be performed within 20 feet (6096 mm) of a tent or membrane structure. (OFC 3107.12.6)

Electrical heating and cooking equipment. Electrical cooking and heating equipment shall comply with NFPA 70. (OFC 3107.12.7)


General. LP-gas equipment such as containers, tanks, piping, hoses, fittings, valves, tubing and other related components shall be approved and in accordance with Chapter 61 and with the International Fuel Gas Code. (OFC 3107.13.1)

Location of containers. LP-gas containers and tanks shall be located outside in accordance with Table 6104.3. Pressure relief devices shall be pointed away from the tent or membrane structure. (OFC 3107.13.2)

Protection and security. Portable LP-gas containers, tanks, piping, valves and fittings that are located outside and are being used to fuel equipment inside a tent or membrane structure shall be adequately protected to prevent tampering, damage by vehicles or other hazards and shall be located in an approved location. Portable LP gas containers shall be secured to prevent unauthorized movement. (OFC 3107.13.3)

Use. Flammable-liquid-fueled equipment shall not be used in tents or membrane structures. (OFC 3107.14.1)

Flammable and combustible liquid storage. Flammable and combustible liquids shall be stored outside in an approved manner not less than 50 feet (15 240 mm) from tents or membrane structures. Storage shall be in accordance with Chapter 57. (OFC 3107.14.2)

Refueling. Refueling shall be performed in an approved location not less than 20 feet (6096 mm) from tents or membrane structures. (OFC 3107.14.3)

Batteries. Batteries shall be disconnected in an appropriate manner. (OFC 3107.15.1)

Fuel. Vehicles or equipment shall not be fueled or defueled within the tent or membrane structure. (OFC 3107.15.2)

Quantity limit. Fuel in the fuel tank shall not exceed one-quarter of the tank capacity or 5 gallons (19 L), whichever is less. (OFC 3107.15.2.1)

Inspection. Fuel systems shall be inspected for leaks. (OFC 3107.15.2.2)

Closure. Fuel tank openings shall be locked and sealed to prevent the escape of vapors. (OFC 3107.15.2.3)

Location. The location of vehicles or equipment shall not obstruct means of egress. (OFC 3107.15.3)

Places of assembly. When a compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LP-gas) powered vehicle is parked inside a place of assembly, all the following conditions shall be met:

  1. The quarter-turn shutoff valve or other shutoff valve on the outlet of the CNG or LP-gas container shall be closed and the engine shall be operated until it stops. Valves shall remain closed while the vehicle is indoors.

  2. The hot lead of the battery shall be disconnected.

  3. Dual-fuel vehicles equipped to operate on gasoline and CNG or LP-gas shall comply with this section and Sections 3107.15.1 through 3107.15.3 for gasoline- powered vehicles. (OFC 3107.15.4)

Electrical equipment and wiring. Outdoor assembly events with concession stands or booths using electrical equipment and temporary wiring for electrical power or lighting shall comply with the applicable provisions of NFPA 70 and Sections 3106.6.1 through 3106.6.3. (OFC 3106.6)

Outdoor use. Electrical equipment and wiring shall be listed and labeled for outdoor use.  (OFC 3106.6.1)

Generators. Generators shall be installed not less than 10 feet (3048 mm) from combustible materials, placed on an approved surface and isolated from the public by physical guard, fence or enclosure installed not less than 3 feet (914 mm) away from the internal combustion power source. (OFC 3106.6.2)

Separation of generators. Generators and other internal combustion power sources shall be separated from tents or membrane structures by not less than 20 feet (6096 mm), placed on an approved surface and isolated from contact with the public by fencing, enclosure or other approved means. (OFC 3107.16)

Portable fire extinguishers. Each generator shall be provided with an approved portable fire extinguisher complying with Section 906. (OFC 3106.6.3)

Standby personnel. Where, in the opinion of the fire code official, it is essential for public safety in a tent or membrane structure used as a place of assembly or any other use where people congregate, because of the number of persons, or the nature of the performance, exhibition, display, contest or activity, the owner, agent or lessee shall employ one or more qualified persons, as required and approved, to remain on duty during the times such places are open to the public, or when such activity is being conducted. (OFC 3107.17)

Duties. Before each performance or the start of such activity, standby personnel shall keep diligent watch for fires during the time such place is open to the public or such activity is being conducted and take prompt measures for extinguishment of fires that occur and assist in the evacuation of the public from the structure. (OFC 3107.17.1)

Crowd managers. There shall be trained crowd managers or trained crowd supervisors at a ratio of one crowd manager or supervisor for every 250 occupants, as approved. (OFC 3107.17.2)

Where events involve a gathering of more than 1,000 people, trained crowd managers shall be provided in accordance with Section 403.12.3. (OFC 3106.4.3)

Weather monitoring person. Where required by the fire code official, the event operator or agent shall designate one qualified individual to continuously monitor local weather reports, forecasts and conditions. Said person shall be responsible for initiating weather-related event mitigation activities, ordering the suspension or cancellation of the outdoor assembly event and issuing the evacuation signal in accordance with the approved public safety plan. (OFC 3106.4.2)

Combustible vegetation. Combustible vegetation that could create a fire hazard shall be removed from the outdoor assembly event area. (OFC 3106.4.6)

Combustible refuse. Combustible refuse shall be kept in noncombustible containers with tight-fitting or self-closing lids. Combustible refuse shall be removed from the event site at regular intervals to prevent an unsafe accumulation within the event site. (OFC 3106.4.7)

Combustible materials. Hay, straw, shavings or similar combustible materials shall not be located within any tent or membrane structure containing an assembly occupancy, except the materials necessary for the daily feeding and care of animals. Sawdust and shavings utilized for a public performance or exhibit shall not be prohibited provided that the sawdust and shavings are kept damp. Combustible materials shall not be permitted under stands or seats at any time. (OFC 3107.2)

Combustible vegetation. Combustible vegetation that could create a fire hazard shall be removed from the area occupied by a tent or membrane structure, and from areas within 30 feet (9144 mm) of such structures. (OFC 3107.18}

Combustible waste material. The floor surface inside tents or membrane structures and the grounds outside and within a 30-foot (9144 mm) perimeter shall be kept free of combustible waste and other combustible materials that could create a fire hazard. Such waste shall be stored in approved containers and removed from the premises not less than once a day during the period the structure is occupied by the public. (OFC 3107.19)

Contact us

Permit Application Center
General Questions
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Permit/License Processing
8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Plans Intake
9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 320
Salem OR 97301
Mail payments to:
PO Box 3405
Portland OR 97208