One of the best ways to connect with your family and neighbors is to spend the evening in front of a backyard fire. You can easily soak up the warmth and let your mind go after dealing with the day’s stresses.
However, everyone can’t enjoy a portable fire pit on their property. With so many fires burning out of control, there are many burn ban rules in places throughout the country. Therefore, before you light a fire to enjoy the flames, you should be aware of the options. Can you have a fire pit in the yard?
Even if you follow all safety precautions, it might not be enough. While it is your space and you own it, it might be illegal in your area to have a fire pit that burns wood.
Those who don’t know for sure if they can have a fire are in the right place. Learn about the different laws in places to determine what options are available to you:
Can You Have a Backyard Fire Pit?
Whether you live in the city or a rural area that stays fairly dry, you might not find appropriate answers about whether you can have portable fire pits in the backyard. Is it legal? There are many places with strict restrictions on fire pits, determining when you can have fires and how to use them.
Can you have a portable fire pit at your house? It depends on a few things:
- What local ordinances outline for a safe distance for the fires to be from structures and buildings. This can be anywhere from 10 feet away or up to 30.
- What’s considered a recreational fire (location, size, etc.)
- Open burn guidelines and rules in the area (is it legal or not)
- What fire types require a permit from the right authorities.
Most areas restrict fire pit usage only when air quality is low, or there could be a high chance of a fire happening. Others have strict guidelines and ordinances in place, regardless of the time of year or weather situation.
For example, Chicago allows outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, but they must have a cover of some kind, and you can only use it with firewood. If you want to burn leaves, you must leave city limits and visit an area with loose rules.
No matter the location, it’s best to buy a certified fire pit that has all the safety features you need for burning wood and other materials.
Ultimately, most rules claim that you can only burn wood in the yard. Other combustible materials are illegal, such as leaves, tires, and more.
Fire Pit Laws
The regulations focusing on fire pits vary greatly in each state and county. For example, Georgia has various laws. You can only have a gas fire between 10 and 10:30 a.m. unless there’s high wind. With that, there are strict guidelines to follow from May to September for recreational fires.
Typically, you should only have wood fires. Certain materials can result in a foul-smelling and dangerous gas. Smoke and chemicals are offensive and could cause breathing problems for those sitting close to the fires.
Common items, such as magazines and paper might seem harmless, but they can produce toxins and smoke. With that, if you burn poison oak, sumac, or ivy, it could cause lung irritations. Green branches can also cause this.
Generally, most counties accept clean, dry firewood. If you plan to sit on the patio or deck, wood like hickory, oak, cedar, and ash are ideal. While they do produce smoke, it’s not as bad.
For fire safety purposes, you should always keep a hose nearby in case the fire goes out of control. Have it hooked up near the patio. If you are in the middle of a ban, please adhere to the laws.
What Are Recreational Fires?
Recreational fires are those that use firewood as the burning materials. Do not burn garbage or rubbish. The fuel should not be contained by a grill, incinerator, or another cooking option unless it is the right size.
Most municipalities put a limit on the size of your fire, such as 3 feet in diameter with the same height.
The purpose of your backyard fire pit could be for cooking, warmth, religion, or pleasure.
- Use a standard fire pit fuel. Wood-burning pits use tinder, kindling, and wood instead of building materials and other waste.
- Burn in an open space, such as a campfire or bonfire, and not in something that’s enclosed.
- The specific purposes are clear for a recreational fire and don’t include work-related situations.
What Does Open Burning Mean?
Open burning occurs when any materials are burned that could release air contaminants into the air instead of through a stack or chimney.
The items a town allows under such a policy depend on where you’re located. Some have strict laws, and others are more lenient.
For example, Houston has an open-burning policy that includes anything outside of an incinerator. If you don’t have a campfire, bonfire, or another fire in the barbecue pit, grill, or fireplace, this is open burning.
Generally, the wood you use doesn’t matter. However, it’s important to pay attention to air quality concerns for the day. Houston requires a permit from the Fire Marshal.
Does Your Fire Pit Count as Open Burning?
Most of the time, a fire pit is considered open burning. However, some regulations state that it doesn’t pertain to when you burn in a covered or off-the-ground pit. These aren’t as likely to make contact with other flammable items accidentally. Plus, they’re not as prone to wind-blown sparks.
Do You Need a Permit to Have a Fire Pit?
In most cases, you don’t need a permit for fire pits, campsite fires, and open-burn fires. They’re often reserved for industrial needs. If you’re not sure, call and check with local fire department personnel.
It’s natural to wonder about the regulations in place, and there’s no harm in asking.
Having an outdoor fire pit is something many people like. Though it’s natural, you don’t want it to lead you into getting in trouble with the neighbors or the law.
Pay attention to the regulations and restrictions for a backyard fire, even if you’re on your property. Don’t cross the line and get in trouble!