Occupancy Load Permitting

Download an Application Form

Applicant Requirements

Applicants are responsible for completing and submitting an Occupancy Load Application form to the OFM providing all details associated with their event.  It is important for applicants to understand that this can be time consuming as applicants are responsible for providing detailed measurements in metric as outlined in the application along with a legible drawing and any requested fire safety information required.   Ensure to plan your event well in advance.

Note: Regional Assistant Fire Marshals are available to provide guidance in completing all requested information.  

Application for Special Event License and Occupancy Load Certificates

Special occasion permits are issued by the LLB who also regulates events where liquor is being served at a specific location for a specific date and time.  Often, these events are requested to be held in Non- conforming  buildings.    The Office of the Fire Marshal issues an occupant load certificate to the applicant and copies the LLB.  The required information must be provided by the applicant prior to issuance of an occupant load certificate.

For additional information pertaining to the NWT Liquor Licensing Board (LLB), please visit the following site: Liquor Licensing Board

Events in non-conforming buildings require additional investigation, time, effort and scrutiny by the Office of the Fire Marshal to confirm fire safety requirements.  Should fire safety requirements not be attainable or the OFM ‘s requirements not be satisfied, an occupancy load permit will not be issued. 

An application package and guide to assist clients in applying for an occupant load certificate can be located here :  ________________________

Note: Non legible or incomplete application forms or drawings will result in the application being denied.

Timelines for Receiving an Occupancy Load Permit from the OFM

The Liquor Licensing Board requires an application within a specified time frame in advance of a license being granted. For example;


For events less than 200 people – 5 days

Foe events 200 – 500 people – 14 days

For events  more than  500 people – 45 days


Although these timelines meet the requirements of the LLB they may not meet the timelines for the OFM to confirm fire safety requirements are in place.  The OFM cannot guarantee the issuance of an occupant load in order for clients to obtain a liquor license until such time as an occupant load has been determined and all fire safety requirements have been confirmed by the OFM. 

NOTE; It is required that clients make application for an occupancy load certificate from the OFM a minimum of 10 business days in advance of the LLB’s filing time requirements and in the case of a complex event, 45 days in advance of LLB’s filing time requirements (see definition for complex event in question and answer section at bottom of page) in order to obtain an occupancy load certificate.

OFM Required Timelines for Occupancy Permit

  • 10 business days in advance of LLB filing time requirements (standard event)
  • 45 days in advance of LLB’s filing time requirements (complex event)

​Frequently Asked Questions

What is a complex event?

A complex event is an event that requires additional time and effort by the OFM to confirm fire safety requirements.  Public events in arenas, large tents or high hazard locations such as aircraft hangers or garages where a large number of people are expected to gather can be complex and take longer to satisfy OFM requirements.  Contact the OFM well in advance (minimum 45 days) to determine if your event qualifies as complex.

What unit of measurement is to be used in my occupancy permit application?

The OFM requires all measurements to be metric as outlined in the application form.     

Who enforces the requirements for the event?

The OFM confirms the life safety requirements of the building prior to issuing an occupancy permit.

Liquor inspectors may inspect and enforce site requirements at any time prior to or during the event.

What is a non-conforming building?

A non-conforming building for the purposes of obtaining an occupancy load permit is a building that is being used for a purpose it was not designed for.  i.e. – liquor establishments are classified under the NBC as “A2” (Assembly Occupancies) and office buildings are classified by the NBC as  “D” (Office Buildings).  A request to host a liquor event in an office building would be hosting the event in a non-conforming building.

What is a temporary structure?

A temporary structure is a structure that is being used for a specific period of time and will not remain in place indefinitely. i.e. - Tent

How can I ensure inspection and testing documentation for life safety systems have been submitted as required in my application?

It is best to check with your Regional Assistant Fire Marshal first to determine if they already have the required documentation on file.  If the OFM does not have the records on file, the applicant will need to contact the building owner to either obtain copies of the documents or have the building owner submit them to the OFM.

What are site specific requirements?

Site specific requirements are requirements that the OFM requires to ensure fire safety.  Codes and standards address the majority of fire safety related items, however when public events are held in locations where additional risk is involved i.e. – non-conforming buildings, additional requirements may be applied for the OFM to feel satisfied that the event is safe for attendance by the public.

Why is my occupant load lower than before or expected?

Every event is unique, especially if the floor plan changes.  Occupant loads are established by applying specified calculations outlined in the NBC based on the useable space of the location and minus any fixed objects such as stages / bars etc. The more fixed objects that go into a floor plan reduces the useable space available for occupants.  So where 50 people were approved at a previous event, 30 may only be permitted due to the changes in the floor plan and useable space available for the public. 

Do I require an occupancy load certificate for an open air event?

Yes, you will require an occupancy load certificate for an open air event so the OFM can confirm means of egress / site specific requirements and the number of persons able to be located within the defined area as determined by the code