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Developed and maintained
by the NFCC

Fairgrounds, amusement parks and circuses

Terminology used in this industry includes:

  • Arcade - a transportable structure housing games, stalls or other attractions at a fairground or amusement park; it does not include buildings housing such attractions
  • Amusement park - a fixed site where fairground equipment is provided for the entertainment of the public
  • Circus - a travelling company of acrobats, clowns, animals and other entertainers which gives performances, typically in a large tent, in a series of different places
  • Fairground - any part of premises which at the time is being used wholly or mainly for the operation of any fairground equipment other than a coin-operated ride or non-powered children's playground equipment; this includes both fixed amusement park and temporary sites


The organiser needs to jointly consider fire safety factors with the local fire and rescue service, including:

  • Safe access in and out of the site for fire appliances and the public
  • Risks relating to the spread of fire
  • Means of calling the emergency services (e.g. telephones and telephone reception)
  • The availability of mains services, particularly water for firefighting
  • The slope or unevenness of the ground
  • The arrangements for car parking without obstructing emergency access and/or egress

The HSE, in their publication Fairgrounds and amusement parks: Guidance on safe practice, recommends that where there are more than eight amusement devices designed for use by adults, the organiser should prepare a sketch plan. The sketch used for the emergency plan could be used, showing the position of attractions, vehicles and caravans. The plan should be kept up to date and be made available to the local fire and rescue service before the fair opens.

Common hazards may include:

  • On-site vehicles
  • On-site machinery
  • Temporary structures
  • Presence of people
  • Presence of captive animals
  • Pressure systems or equipment
  • Open water
  • Presence of combustible materials including:
  • Structures and furnishing
  • Fuels including flammable liquids and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)
  • Rubbish
  • Vegetation
  • Cooking facilities - see Kitchens (industrial or commercial)
  • Electrical equipment
  • Scaffolding
  • Entrapment or entanglement
  • Unstable structures
  • Working at height
  • Projectiles from shooting galleries - either hazardous or non-hazardous

References and further reading