The majority of people appreciate a good bonfire or a tasty meal cooked over a wood fire. You must ensure that you are not violating any fire laws when building a fire or situating your fire pit.

Can I have a fire pit in my backyard?

You may also be wondering if you can have a fire pit in your backyard. So, are backyard fire pits permissible?

Yes. Backyard fire pits are lawful as long as they adhere to the county’s laws and regulations. You can bring portable fire pits to campgrounds or get permission to create them.

You will be alright as long as you follow the fundamental regulations for having a backyard fire pit.

Most people are unaware of the rules or regulations in their city or municipality when building a fire in their backyard or camping using a fire pit. Each municipality has its own set of rules for recreational burning, but most adhere to the same safety norms and laws.

Both the legislation and the burn restrictions are in place to ensure the safety of everyone in the area. Follow the rules in this article to ensure that your next recreational fire conforms to state, local, and federal law.

Common laws and regulations regarding backyard fire pits

It’s worth noting that most towns and localities permit modest recreational fires in their communities. Building a recreational fire implies that you are burning a reasonable amount of wood and that there is no excessive smoke that can impact your neighbors.

Not all fire safety regulations are predicated on being a good neighbor. A majority of regulations exist to keep you from setting fire to your property or releasing toxic chemicals into the air.

Here are some common fire safety rules for backyard recreational fires:

  • Your fire pit must be kept at a safe distance from any combustible materials. This means that the fire must be at least twenty-five feet away from your house, shed, automobiles, or decks.
  • If you have a lot of trees in your backyard, you’ll want to ensure sure no branches are hanging over your fire.
  • The impact of recreational burning in a neighborhood on your neighbors is a major worry. You must keep your fire at least 10 feet from the property border.
  • When someone has a fire going, wind conditions pose a severe hazard to the safety of the area. You are not permitted to light your backyard fire pit if the wind speed exceeds 15 miles per hour.
  • Fires should be no taller than three feet high and no more than three feet wide. More towering fires endanger fire safety.
  • All fires must be attended to and supervised by an adult during the duration of their burning. That implies that even if you’re 25 feet away working on a project in your garage, you’re still breaking fire safety laws.

What counts as a recreational fire?

A recreational fire is generally defined as an outdoor fire used to burn anything other than junk or trash, where the fuel is not contained by an incinerator, grill, or other cooking appliance of a fixed size.

Most localities limit the size of a recreational fire to three feet in diameter and three feet in height. The purpose of the fire might range from pure enjoyment to religious or ceremonial purposes, cooking, or warming.

The following are the most important things to know when using a recreational fire:

  1. Use regular fire pit fuel, such as firewood, tinder, and kindling, rather than garbage, construction materials, or other waste.
  2. It should be burned outside, such as in a fire pit, bonfire, or campfire, rather than in an enclosed place.
  3. The specified purposes for recreational fires are well defined and do not include work-related usage.

What can and cannot be burned

Smoke, chemicals, and poisonous fumes are not only offensive; they are also dangerous to anyone sitting near the fire, nearby people, and wildlife.

Apparently, safe burning materials can endanger the entire city’s health or even be unlawful to burn.

If you are confused about what you can burn, consult your county’s policy on permissible burning materials.

Here is a list of common poisonous or high-smoke-emitting products that people burn:

  • Paper– Regardless of how much you want the increased protection that comes with burning personal documents and sensitive material, this is not permitted. The burning paper produces excessive smoke and, because it has been processed, emits harmful substances into the atmosphere.
  • Cardboard– Cardboard emits noxious smoke. It may also cause a surge in flames, which is hazardous to individuals sitting nearby.
  • Particleboard– Particleboard is commonly used in low-cost furniture. Particleboard is kept together by adhesives that, when burned, produce hazardous gases.
  • Wooden Pallets– Do not use wooden pallets to fuel a fire pit. Some pallets have been treated with a chemical known as methyl bromide. When the wooden pallets burn, methyl bromide is discharged into the air.
  • Magazines– Ads, bulletins, magazines, and colorful gift wrapping paper are all created with ink, which, when burned, can emit hazardous fumes into the environment.
  • Plastic– Burning plastic emits poisonous compounds into the air, which are harmful to people, particularly young children.
  • Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac– Using a bonfire to remove these plants from your yard are risky. The irritating oil in Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac plants emit fumes into the atmosphere. Some persons get significant lung discomfort and allergic reactions due to these emissions.
  • Trash – Trash is one of the most dangerous commodities to burn in your community. Trash burning emits pollutants into the air and produces a lot of smoke. It is against the law to burn trash.
  • Pressure Treated or Painted Wood– Do not burn pressure-treated or painted wood. It is unsafe to burn pressure-treated wood since the smoke is poisonous to inhale. Painted wood, particularly lead-based paints, can emit harmful vapors.
  • Branches with Green Leaves– The wetness in green branches and plant life does not produce excellent fuel. They produce a lot of smoke, soon filling up your yard and your neighbor’s yard.

The animals are frequently subjected to poisonous chemicals and smoke as a result of negligent fire construction. Excessive smoke can kill small birds and drive small mammals from their homes.

Poisonous gases contaminate the surroundings and penetrate the water supply from which numerous species consume.

What can you burn?

In most counties, the only permitted firewood to burn is clean, dry wood that has been split. Here are a few examples of approved and safe to burn firewood:

  • Oak – Oak generates a lot of heat while burning slowly and steadily. Oak is one of the most widely available types of firewood, making it simple for campers and bonfire enthusiasts to locate and utilize.
  • Hickory – Hickory firewood burns hotter than oak, maple, and other commonly used hardwoods. Because hickory is dense, it may be difficult to split. Hickory does not retain moisture and burns well. The flavor of Hickory, when used to grill dishes, is its most recognized feature.
  • Ashwood – Ashwood is an excellent alternative for firewood. It burns more easily, holds less moisture, and produces less smoke than other types of firewood available today. Because of these properties, it is ideal for use as a campfire or a bonfire.
  • Cedar – Cedar creates a lot of heat, making it an excellent choice for firewood on a cold night. However, it is deceptive because it does not produce particularly large flames. Cedar also has a distinct scent that smells fantastic when burned.

Putting out the flames

In the right conditions, coals, embers, and wood can keep the heat for hours, even days. It is critical to handle the charred remains of a fire with care.

Many house fires start when the remains of a fire are hurriedly thrown into a garbage bin or dumpster. They melt through trash cans and house siding.

They can also occur when sparks or embers fly out of the fire pit. To help conceal the fire, you can utilize various fire pit grill grates. This also makes it easier to cook on your fire pit.

After a large fire, you should keep the ash, coal, and embers out for several days.

A burst of wind can rekindle a barely smoldering fire. So, stir and spread your coals as much as possible, and extinguish any excess heat using water, soil, or sand.

You don’t want to bury the coals since it will have the opposite effect. Simply alternate swirling and tossing the soil until it is no longer red hot.

If you have a water hose, use it to douse your fire when you’ve finished enjoying it. When holding a bonfire, keep a bucket of water or your hose nearby in case of an issue.

When the fire has been out, there are various things you can do with the wood ash around your home. So don’t feel obligated to dispose of it.

What is open burning?

Open burning, according to the Division of Environmental Quality, occurs when any materials are burned, and air toxins are released directly into the air rather than going through a chimney or a stack.

What items a town accepts under its open burn policy varies depending on where you live. Some localities have strict rules about what they accept, while others have more lax rules.

In Houston, open burning is defined as any burning that occurs outside of a permitted incinerator. It is open burning if your bonfire, campfire, or other fire is not contained within a barbeque pit, outdoor fireplace, or barbeque grill.

According to their city’s regulations, open burning is only permitted if the Fire Marshal agrees and gives permission.

Does my fire pit count as open burning?

Yes, it does in the majority of cases. However, many localities define open burning as not burning in a fire pit that is off the ground or covered.

They are less likely to come into touch with other combustible objects by accident and are less prone to wind-blown sparks and spreading. This is one of the most significant reasons to examine your township or city’s burning restrictions.

Will I need a permit for my fire pit?

Open burn fires in fire pits or camping fires do not require a permit. Typically, burn licenses are designated for industrial uses such as waste disposal or other industrial operations.

Calling your local fire department to double-check is the best advice. Simply tell them the size and purpose of the fire, and they should be able to provide you with a straightforward response.

What types of open fire require a permit?

Open burn fires, such as fire pits and small campfires, usually do not require a burn permit. Non-recreational burn permits are typically designated for garbage disposal and other industrial purposes.

To be sure, check with your local fire department.

Bans on open fires

There are two types of burn bans: one for air quality and one for wildfire protection. Both are a required and temporary ban on using wood stoves, fireplaces, and outdoor fires.

Warm, dry weather may prompt government officials to impose a required burn restriction to maintain fire safety and air quality. During the fall and winter, air-quality burn bans are typically established and enforced.

These burn prohibitions can extend for a week or more.

The smoke produced by the combustion of wood and wood-based goods contains fine particles known as soot.

Soot is a poisonous mixture of various carcinogens that is especially dangerous to the health of young children, the elderly, and persons with respiratory and heart problems.

Concentrations of wood smoke grow stagnant when there is no wind. Stagnant smoke can reach dangerous levels.

Hence fires are prohibited during this situation to safeguard air quality. However, depending on the area and existing restrictions, gas fire pit tables that release no smoke may be utilized during burn bans.

Different stages of the burn ban

The following state burn ban regulations are divided into two stages:

Burn Bans in Stage 1

Stage 1 burn bans are imposed due to inclement weather or rising pollutant levels.

Stage 1 burn restrictions imply the following:

  • The use of wood-burning fireplaces and uncertified fireplaces or woodstoves is prohibited.
  • Fireplace inserts are also prohibited during this time unless they are your only significant heat source.
  • Even if you use a certified device or if the fireplace is your sole source of heat, you cannot produce visible smoke. The label on the back of your wood stove and the one on top of your fireplace insert will tell you if your wood-burning device is certified. It should state that it complies with E.P.A. emission standards in the United States.
  • During burn bans, all outdoor burns, including woodfires and charcoal recreational fires, are prohibited.

Burn Bans in Stage 2

Stage 2 burn restrictions are imposed by state law when fine particle pollution levels reach a specific level or when the weather provides conditions that allow wildfires to spread more easily.

Stage 2 Burn Ban entails the following:

  • No burning is permitted unless it is your sole source of heat.
  • Even if you are merely burning to heat your home, you cannot produce excessive volumes of smoke.
  • Wood-burning fireplaces, wood stoves, and fireplace inserts, whether certified or uncertified, are not permitted.
  • All outdoor burning is prohibited, including recreational fires powered by wood or charcoal.

Fines and penalties for violations of the Burn Ban for owners of property

If inspectors find a property owner breaching the burn restriction, they will levy a fine. The fine for breaking the restriction can vary from $500 to $15,000.

How do you make a fire pit safe?

Purchase a safe, tested, certified fire pit, such as those available from Outland Living. Check your township or city’s burning restrictions, and keep a safe distance from the house, property line, and other structures.


You should now know the most common laws and regulations governing recreational burning. Laws differ by county, so make sure you’re up to current on the policy in your area.

There’s nothing wrong with having some fun lounging around the bonfire, but here are some things to keep in mind:

  • A fire pit must be at least 25 feet away from any combustible object, such as your home, deck, sheds, cars, and trees.
  • A fire should be kept at least ten feet from your property boundary.
  • When people are reckless or burn poisonous materials on fires, they pose a risk.
  • When fires are not fed by clean, dry wood and emit large volumes of smoke, they can be a nuisance in a neighborhood.
  • Fire bans should be taken seriously, and you should make sure that your location is not now under a ban period before starting a fire.
  • When camping, you should be prepared to extinguish a fire at a moment’s notice to avoid igniting a wildfire.
  • When camping, follow the campground’s fire safety requirements.
  • Most critically, fires must be monitored at all times.