State Fire Marshal educates public on haunted house safety

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The start of Halloween season is upon us which means dozens of haunted house attractions will be constructed and opening up to the public all across Louisiana throughout the month.

As that activity begins, the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFM) would like to remind operators about several safety requirements our deputies will be looking for when inspecting attractions for approved occupancy.

For temporary "special amusement structures" and/or "Ghost Walks" (i.e. not operational for more than 30 days):

--A sketch of the facility, along with documentation and materials, emergency plans and equipment must be submitted to the SFM for review and approval prior to the use of the building or space as a temporary “Special Amusement” activity

--Interior finishes and decorations/props shall be flame-resistant

--If the building operates in a reduced lighting environment, the building should contain an approved automatic smoke detection system that (a) will sound an alarm louder than the greatest ambient noise level (b) will sound at a constantly manned location where the attendant will be capable of turning on additional lighting for emergency evacuation

--Occupant load constantly controlled to no more than 25 occupants at any given time

--Fire department presence during all periods of activity OR ABC-type fire extinguishers in each room with a person trained in their proper use AND a garden hose connected to adequate water supply long enough to reach into every area of the structure

--Exit and directional signage

--Artificial smoke is prohibited; dry ice is acceptable

--Accessible parking and an accessible route to the entrance of the attraction is required and should include stable, firm and slip-resistant walking surfaces.

For permanent “haunted house” or “special amusement” structures:

--Projects must be submitted to the SFM for a full plan review prior to construction. Visit for plan submittal instructions and requirements

--Minimum fire protection, life safety and accessibility features are required including sprinkler systems throughout (where the building is portable, sprinkler water supply may be approved as sufficient)

--If the building operates in a reduced lighting environment, the building should contain an approved automatic smoke detection system with alarm at a constantly attended location

--Activation of the sprinkler and/or smoke alarm system must illuminate all means of egress and halt conflicting or confusing sounds and visual effects

--Exit markings should be posted at low levels as well as normal heights

--Approved directional exit markings that become apparent in an emergency shall be included in0 maze, mirror or similarly designed spaces with confusing egress paths

--Interior finishes and decorations/props shall be flame-resistant

--Accessible parking, an accessible route and features of accessibility shall be included for all permanent structures

If you're planning to patron a haunted house attraction, we encourage you to develop an emergency meeting location with the group you are attending with and/or instruct children to locate uniformed personnel in the event they find themselves lost and without an emergency meeting location.

The SFM encourages reporting any concerning conditions at special amusement structures to 1-800-256-5452 or filing a complaint through our website,

Contributed by La. State Fire Marshal