Restaurants and Café Outdoor Dining – Warmth in the Winter Months

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Provided by Prince William County

As the evenings cool down and restaurant and café owners want to continue entertaining customers outdoors, the Department of Development Services has a reminder about tents and the installation of heating devices.


  • Use of residential heaters is prohibited.
  • All outdoor heaters must be for commercial use and marked “UL Listed” or “UL Classified.”
  • Five feet or greater clearance for LP-gas heaters from buildings, combustibles, exits or discharges, people and animals.
  • Three feet clearance for electrical heaters.
  • No commercial heater will be plugged into an extension cord.
  • Follow the manufacturers’ recommended safety guidelines for length of use.
  • All tents must adhere to the County Fire Code requirements.

Prohibited Use:

Inside or below tents, canopies, membrane structures; inside any space where connected to a fuel gas container; exterior balconies; stored or used on rooftops.

Any tent over 900 sq. ft. or having over 50 occupants inside must secure a permit and requires an inspection by the Fire Marshal’s Office and Building Development Division.

The Fire Marshal’s staff spot checks tents of any size to ensure the safety of County citizens and visitors and all code requirements are met.

Heating Device/Tent Questions? Please email Lieutenant Barry Culbertson or Battalion Chief Tom Jarman, or call 703-792-6360.

Permitting a Propane Gas Heater Questions? Please contact Donna Rubino or Jean Patterson.

Read more here and here.


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