Fire pits may be an excellent feature for any property. Fire pits bring atmosphere to outdoor events, can be visually pleasing, and are inexpensive to operate. Many folks have a fire pit in their garden. There are numerous fire pit alternatives to pick from, ranging from high-end to low-end, handmade to portable. There is a style for everyone out there.

Residential fire pit regulations

When it comes to finding out the specific requirements for having a fire pit at your property, you may be able to contact your homeowners’ association or local authorities to find out the exact rules for your locality. There may be restrictions on the number of hours allowed, the sort of pit allowed, the size of the pit, and the location. Before installing a fire pit in your yard, knowing the exact criteria might help you avoid potential penalties and charges.

In other locations, regulations regarding the burning of waste are more stringent. Some urban regions, locations with poor air quality, and high fire hazard zones will likely have stricter burning regulations. Depending on the conditions, your neighborhood may be subject to a permanent burn ban. If you are not permitted to have a wood-burning fire pit, you may be permitted to use a fuel-burning fire pit instead because they burn much more cleanly and do not represent as much of a fire risk as the wood-burning kind. You should still be concerned about propane fire pit safety, but the risk is different from wood pits.

If you are unable to locate the local legislation governing the use of a fire pit in your yard, below is a summary of some common regulations found in the United States:

Firepit distance from the property line, house, and other structures

  • When it comes to fire pit placement, the first rule of thumb is to keep it a safe distance away from the building and other combustible structures and materials. Your home, outbuildings, fences, bushes, trees, and plants are all included. Make sure you know how far away from home a fire pit should be in your location. This also minimizes the possibility of hazardous gases being blown your way as a result of wind direction.
  • Most localities require a clearance of 21 feet above the fire pit to allow for overhead branches.
  • Be aware of your property line. Many places have rules on how close a fire pit can be to the edge of your property. The distance varies based on your county or municipality, so be sure to look into the details of where you live.
  • Avoid putting your fire pit on sloping ground.
  • Make certain that your fire pit is not located beneath any electrical wires.

Type of Fire Pit

  • Whether your fire pit is in the ground or portable, it should have enclosed sides that are at least 6-12 inches high. It should also be made of non-combustible materials, such as heavy-duty metal, stone, or brick.
  • If you opt to construct an in-ground fire pit, it must be lined with a non-combustible material such as heavy gauge metal or brick and mortar.
  • When building your pit, make sure to include a ten-inch-deep base beneath the fire pit. Build your foundation out of materials like sand, rock, or gravel. This non-combustible foundation allows you to build a fire without it coming into close touch with the earth.
  • Always create a border around your fire pit if any flaming material ends outside the burning area. This border should be made of sand or gravel, at the very least. You can build a patio around the fire pit out of paving stones if you want to get fancy. To keep your fire pit within recreational sizing requirements, don’t build an open fire that’s bigger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height.

Operation guidelines

  • Removing any combustible debris from surrounding the fire pit area is one of the most critical things you can do while preparing your fire pit area. Remove any debris, brush, leaves, or pine needles. You can collect it and use it as a starter or kindling in your fire to get things rolling.
  • According to many municipal ordinances, the distance to be cleared surrounding the pit should be between 15 and 25 feet.
  • According to many local laws, you must have a mesh screen cover accessible to confine any sparks and embers that may get out of control.
  • Keep fire suppression equipment nearby to be used immediately if a fire starts to become an issue. A fire extinguisher, water buckets, garden hose, and sand are all good supplies.
  • Keep fires in outdoor fire pits to a modest and manageable size.
  • Keep a pail of sand handy in case of an emergency or if windy conditions worsen.
  • Only dry, clean, and seasoned firewood is permitted; no lighter fluid or other combustible items may be used.

Do Not Burn:

  • Wood goods including glue or resin
  • Garbage, including food waste
  • Treated or unpainted wood, such as materials from wood decks
  • Unseasoned or wet wood
  • Animal carcasses
  • Yard waste
  • Building material
  • Anything that, when burned, emits poisonous emissions, strong scents, or dense smoke
  • Materials containing grease, asphalt, plastic, paint, or rubber

Supervision regulations

Most governments and homeowner associations mandate that an adult supervise a fire at all times. This implies that even if you are 25 feet away working on a project in your garage, you are still violating fire safety regulations.

Shifting winds might endanger both your neighbor’s and your property. Local ordinances may forbid you from lighting a fire in your backyard during strong wind conditions. The general unpredictability of the weather is a major cause of laws that require regular supervision.

Your responsibility to keep an eye on your backyard fire does not cease when the flames go out. Overnight, leftover embers might hold enough heat that a strong gust of wind can rekindle the fire. When you’re done enjoying your backyard fire, spread the coals around and stir them with soil or sand to ensure they’re extinguished. Instead of burying your hot coals, mix them periodically and sprinkle on soil or sand until they are no longer hot. Alternatively, you can put the embers in a metal container and water them.

Adding a fire pit to your yard is a year-round outdoor feature. It’s a great way to start a party and can increase the value of your home. Just be sure to check your local laws and restrictions before beginning your fire pit project, and you’ll be licking your sticky s’more fingers in no time.

What fuel should I use?

The most natural fuel is wood and has a lot of benefit. Although it contributes to greenhouse gasses and particulate matter in the atmosphere, it is an excellent cooking fire pit. Staring into the flames has an obsessive quality to it. Depending on where you live and what is available, wood can be pricey. A wood-burning fire pit requires the user to do labor. Wood must be gathered and chopped, and there must be a good storage space close to but at least a few feet away from the fire pit. After being burned, it leaves a mess of ash and coals that must be cleaned up and removed regularly. Ash is beneficial to garden beds amongst other things.

Natural Gas

It is clean, emits far less particle matter, and may be used as a cooking flame without risk. The disadvantage is that this fire pit must be permanently installed and connected to a gas line. This is usually an expensive installation that involves relocating the gas line away from home, and it means you won’t be able to move the fire pit in the future. Natural gas emits 99 percent less pollution than wood.

Propane gas

Many people believe that this is the greatest alternative for fueling a fire pit. The flame is clean and warm, and it is suitable for cooking. The fuel is inexpensive. This portable outdoor pit fire can be moved around to take advantage of changing weather conditions. The best thing about a gas fire pit is that you can easily turn it out when you’ve had your fill of it and be confident that it’s safe.

Gel fuel

This gasoline is lightweight and portable. In some regions, purchasing can be difficult. You can buy wood laced with the gel to use in any fireplace, but it only produces half the heat that other fuels provide. Cooking on this flame is not advised.

It’s also possible to buy an electric fire pit. This has fake flames that appear genuine, but it must be near a power source.

The fuel and intended use determine the type of fire pit used. Some individuals construct fire pits out of heat-resistant bricks and a little ingenuity. There are no guidelines about whether it should be circular or square. Airflow must be constructed into a wood fire pit. It must have access for cleaning as well as safety barriers built-in.

Local fire authorities will have laws in place in most regions that restrict the usage of fire pits and other fuel-burning accessories for the home. These rules may specify the type of fuel permitted, the placement of the fire pit, the hours of operation, and even the design of the fire pit. It could be necessary to have a covered fire pit. These laws will most likely be more stringent in locations with high fire danger, dense population or poor air quality.

Where should a fire pit not be put?

Never build a fire pit without first obtaining permission from your local authorities.

Because of the potential of property damage from fire, local governments, homeowners associations, and house deeds may regulate the size, location, material, and fuel type of fire pits. Failure to follow the guidelines in your area may result in a fine.

Never place a fire pit in a location where it will be exposed to heavy winds.

Install your outdoor fire pit on a 15-foot stretch of flat ground, at least 10 feet away from property lines and flammable structures. Check the weather, or use the Wind Rose tool from the National Water and Climate Center. You can use this to discover the direction the wind will blow in your location.

Use non-porous and water-retaining materials at all times.

Fire pits are often constructed with an inner wall, an exterior wall, and a tabletop-like surface surrounding an aperture. The pit’s base might be made of decorative stones, pavers or glass. The interior wall is constructed using fireproof materials, while the external walls are heat resistant.

Flagstone is appropriate for the pit cap. Never utilize combustible or porous materials, such as river rocks, wood pallets, or compressed concrete blocks. These and other items can trap steam and explode, posing a fire threat. 

Never use a fire pit in the vicinity of a potential fire hazard.

Keep your fire pit away from any flammable materials. Build your fire pit at least 15-20 feet away from the house and any outbuildings like a barn, doghouse, wooden shed, garage, or other structures. Although it may be tempting to set your fire pit on a deck or in a pergola, these structures are flammable.

Finally, keep your fire pit away from overhead power wires, utility lines, and low-hanging tree branches.

Never use a fire pit in a closed space.

On weekends, you could host a party with a fire pit in front of your house, or you might host a gathering in the backyard for more privacy. Keep your fire pit a safe distance away from the house, as dictated by local fire regulations.

Never leave a blazing fire unattended.

Always have an adult keep an eye on your fire pit. Never leave an open fire unattended after going to bed. Pour water over the burning embers to ensure the fire is completely extinguished. Keep the phone number of your local fire station ready in case of an emergency.

Safety concerns regarding fire pits

Understanding fire pit safety is the most important aspect of owning a fire pit.

Understand the local weather conditions and try to position the fire pit where it will be protected from severe winds and where smoke drift will have the least influence on neighbors. Place the fire pit away from high traffic areas. Make sure there is enough space between the fireplace and the furniture around it.

The combination of alcohol and fire pits is hazardous. Stumbling and staggering around an open fire pit is a recipe for disaster.

Children are the most likely to be injured in a backyard fire pit accident. “It occurred so fast” is a common response to any catastrophe involving youngsters. Children move quickly, and if the supervising adult is not watchful, accidents can occur, and it may be too late to aid the hurting youngster. It is quite risky to jostle for a position near the flames. Leaving a fire unattended until the coals are extinguished might be lethal. Not only may the child fall in, but the embers could rekindle and spread to nearby flammable things.

Children should not be allowed to play around the fire pit. As you would with a swimming pool, establish rules prohibiting running or fooling around. Set up safe boundaries. Suppose kids want to toast marshmallows, set guidelines that everyone can understand and follow.

In 2017, at least 5,300 injuries caused by fire pits or outdoor heaters were treated in emergency departments across the United States. Children under the age of five account for one-quarter of all burn victims from fire pits.

Third and fourth-degree burns are fatal because they permanently harm the victim. These burns result in severe and significant deformity, nerve damage, and even limb loss. Medical treatment for serious burns includes placing skin grafts on the afflicted area and administering antibiotics to prevent infections. Serious consequences may occur for the patient. Secondary infections, organ damage, and other potentially fatal disorders are among them. It is distressing and tough to live with the consequences of a severe burn. Scars are disfiguring, uncomfortable, and often painful for the rest of one’s life.

Is it permissible to put a fire pit on grass?

If you want to set your fire pit on grass, you can use pavers, fire pit pads, or a heatproof screen. However, here are a few more fire pit safety precautions.

  • Fire accelerants, such as lighter fluid or gasoline, should be used sparingly or not at all. They emit poisonous fumes and have the potential to ignite. Use store-bought wood shavings, kindling, or fire starters.
  • Keep an eye on your children and pets. They can move suddenly around a fire pit or gleefully run around the backyard.
  • Determine whether the wood you’re using is suitable for your backyard fire pit. Check that the wood is not dangling over the edge of the pit.
  • It is not a good idea to throw trash or paper into a fire. Burning shards can easily flutter away, increasing the likelihood of a neighborhood fire.
  • About an hour before you want to go inside, stop adding wood to the fire. This will allow the fire’s embers to burn out, making it easier to extinguish.

FAQs

What goes in the bottom of a fire pit?

For your fire pit, start with a layer of sand at the bottom of the pit and then top it with gravel, lava rocks, fire pit glass, paving stones, or even bricks. You can also use dirt as an alternative.

What is the best way to prepare the ground for a fire pit?

Remove all grass and plant material. Excavate about 8 inches of soil, making sure that the pit’s bottom is level and the soil is compact.

Is it possible to build a fire pit out of dirt?

Yes, you can construct a fire pit out of the soil. Check that the dirt is compacted and level.

What is the best base for a fire pit?

You have a few possibilities. Plain dirt is good, but sand layered with gravel creates a more visually appealing basis.