Halloween Safety for Haunted Houses and Carnivals

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Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue

Halloween is a fun time of the year, with a number of haunted houses and carnivals in the community. Life-safety issues do become a concern. We want to remind non-profit organizations, merchants, and school personnel to ensure the safety of their patrons during operation of these activities and events.

Precautions and Guidelines

As haunted houses, corn mazes and similar haunted-house type structures and environments have become popular, the potential for significant fire and safety hazards has increased. Please observe the following precautions and regulations in preparing your haunted house or carnival:

  1. Do not use highly flammable materials such as cotton batting, straw, dried plant material, certain plastics, etc. 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, multi-plug adapters, and unfused plug strips are not permitted. Only circuit breaker strips or code-approved wiring is permitted.
  4.  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 (703-792-7615).
  5.  The Building Official’s approval is required for construction of any walls, partitions, or raised flooring (703-792-6930). The Building Department is part of the TAP review process.
  6.  Call the Fire Marshal’s Office for an inspection at least 48 hours prior to opening your display to the public (703-792-6360). This can be arranged as part of the TAP process.
  7.  Maintain all exits in a clear and usable 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 you have access to a phone to call the fire department and that everyone knows the emergency number, 9-1-1.
  11. Develop an Emergency Evacuation and Fire Safety Plan. The plan document is part of the TAP application packet.

Application Process

An application process is required for haunted houses and carnivals. Please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-792-6360 for further direction or visit our website, click on Fire Safety and Haunted House – Special Amusement Building (pwcgov.org/government/dept/FR/fmo/Pages/Haunted-House-SpecialtyAmusement-Guidelines.aspx).

Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee states, “Our mission is to keep the community and our residents safe. We feel confident you’ll have a safe and happy Halloween if you follow these precautions and regulations.”


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