As Flu Season Begins, Hospitals Should Review Tent Use Requirements

Due to the recent increase in influenza patients, hospitals should review requirements for tent use. According to a new State Fire Marshal (SMF) policy, tents with labels do not have to be annually recertified. Other current requirements are detailed in the attached California Department of Public Health (CDPHi) guidance. Hospitals should note that the CDPH Licensing and Certification (L&C) district office must provide written approval for tent use as explained in All Facility Letter 09-39. In the absence of any specific suspension of statute or regulation by Governor’s Executive Order, tents will be approved for use only as waiting rooms; to conduct triage and medical screening exams; and to provide basic first-aid and outpatient treatment that meets all applicable rules and regulations. Any other use may require a program flex. The SFM approves the nonflammable material used in tents, and requires each section of the top and sidewalls of tents designed to hold 10 or more occupants to have an SFM-approval label. Hospitals should only use tents with an SFM label. If no labels are affixed to tents, hospitals should contact their local fire jurisdiction.

In addition:

  • Local fire marshals, depending on their jurisdiction, may have a variety of requirements as prerequisites for tent use. Hospital owners should be in contact with their local fire marshals now to learn the requirements prior to the use of a tent.
  • OSHPD will review utility connections for tents that originate in, pass through or pass under buildings regulated by OSHPD. OSHPD will also require that tents do not obstruct the required means of egress from the hospital. OSHPD is willing to pre-approve the use of a tent when a hospital can specifically designate where it will be located on the hospital grounds. Hospitals are encouraged to receive this preapproval. This can be scheduled through a field review by area compliance staff.
  • CDPH Guidance: Approval for Health Care Facility Use of Surge Tents
  • California Fire Marshal Certification 2013