Lancaster Tent Collapse Raises Question Of Permit, Inspection Laws

Aug 7, 2015


Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

Regulations vary widely among states on how outdoor entertainment venues like circus tents get their permits and are inspected.

In New Hampshire, where a circus tent blew down in a severe storm and killed two people this week, the circus operator failed to get the necessary permit that would have spurred an inspection.

Some permits and inspections are handled by local governments, others by the state. The process can involve any number of departments from fire and police to insurance, agriculture or building inspectors. Some of the inspectors aren't trained to examine how a tent was erected so they rely on the installer to follow the manufacturer's specifications.

Other high-profile accidents have led to change. Indiana mandated inspections after a stage collapsed at the 2011 State Fair, killing seven people.