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12th April 2012

Posh tents at festivals - do they meet UK fire retardant standards?

Safeconcerts have been told that there are some worrying issues with a large number of tents - particularly bell tents

Safeconcerts have been informed that many bell tents used by major companies at UK festivals may not be fire retardant nor comply with British Safety Standards.

Festival organisers may well be shocked to discover that large numbers of bell tents which have become very popular and quite a fixture at UK festivals are not fire retardant. (other imported tents may also not be fire retardant)

We believe that organisers are under the illusion that the company supplying will have done a risk assessment and the tents are fire retardant as would be expected. This is not the case and we have been alerted to the fact that a number of tents being supplied do not meet UK standards and if they don't they will present a fire risk.

We would ask that all festival organisers check that all tents (and in particular bell tents) supplied to their festival are fire retardant - do not make assumptions.

At present no actual legislation exists which specifically restricts the use of tents which are not fire retardant at festivals, however under the Fire Reform Act event organisers are under a responsibility to carry out a risk assessment on all aspects of their event. The onus is on the event organiser to ensure that the risk assessment is carried out correctly and the Government has produced a guide on how this should be carried out.

If something goes wrong it will be the festival organiser who will be liable, festival organisers need to check that all tents supplied at their event are fire retardant as stated in the HM Governments Fire Risk Assessment for Open Air Events and Venues on page 20 it is stipulated that organisers must:

“ ensure that all upholstered furniture, curtains, drapes, tents and marquees, are fire retardant, or have been treated to give some fire retardancy;”

Trading Standards have said that tents sold in the UK by suppliers have to comply with British Standards and have to comply with General Product Safety Regulations 2005, Consumer Goods and Services Act (The sale of Goods Act 1979), and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

However it would appear that many of the cheap imported bell tents offered for sale and hire in the UK do not comply and this has been overlooked.

The hire of this type of accommodation at festivals is not a cheap option and we suspect that festival goers will assume that all the relevant checks have been done and that the accommodation they are purchasing complies with all UK legislation - this may not be the case.

We would advise anyone who has made arrangements to hire one of these tents during the festival season contact the organisers and ask for confirmation that the tents they are using are fire retardant and do meet all UK specifications and guidelines.

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