The Department of Fire Services receives multiple calls each year about corn maze regulations. There are no regulations that apply directly to corn mazes; however there are broad statutes and regulations that guide fire personnel in situations that may lead to fire - MGL 148 § 5 and 527 CMR 1.06. The Department of Fire Services also has a pamphlet for owners and operators of corn mazes. The pamphlet is designed to encourage discussion between local fire departments and corn maze operators to determine the safest approach to operating a corn maze. Each corn maze is unique and may meet some or all of the recommendations outlined in the pamphlet.
The Halloween season is a fun time of the year, but it generates life safety issues when haunted houses and/or fun houses are operated and open to the public. This is true regardless of occupant load (i.e., either Assembly Use or Business Use buildings or portions thereof).
The life safety issues surrounding haunted houses are glaringly apparent in a review of two tragic fires. A May 11, 1984 fire in the Haunted Castle at Six Flags Great Adventure Park in New Jersey resulted in the deaths of eight visitors because they could not find the exits in time. An October 27, 1973 Washington Reid School PTA haunted house fire occurred one half hour before a PTA-built haunted house maze was to open. The maze caught fire killing one of the PTA volunteers helping to construct it. At the Six Flags fire, major factors contributing to loss of life included:
- failure to detect and extinguish the fire at its incipient stage by means of fixed fire detection and suppression systems;
- ignition of synthetic foam materials and combustible interior finishes contributed to the spread of fire and smoke;
- the difficulty of escape from fire in a haunted-house type environment.
To assist local building and fire officials and the regulated community, three items were attached to the advisory:
- an overview of the requirements of the current 7th or 8th Edition of the Massachusetts State Building Code (780 CMR) regarding these Code-classified SPECIAL AMUSEMENT BUILDINGS;
- an overview of requirements of the Massachusetts Fire Prevention Regulations (527 CMR) for such building operation and maintenance;
- and an overview of the two fatal fires.
The Department of Fire Services and the Department of Public Safety have issued an advisory on this topic for local fire and building officials, Special Amusement Buildings for Halloween and Other Special Events . This updated memo contains information from the original memo referencing current relevant sections of the fire and building codes. We strongly recommend that local fire and building officials work together to address these life safety issues.
Halloween Fire Safety: – a pamphlet for parents and children on celebrating Halloween safely.