Backyard Fire Pits

Is Your Fire Pit in Violation?

It’s chilly evening. You and your friends are sitting around your back yard fire pit enjoying the warmth.

Could it be that you are violating a City fire code forbidding open burning?

In general, open burning relates to such activities as burning of leaves, construction debris or other large fires built on the ground. Open burning regulations typically do not apply to fires used for cooking, warmth, recreation, religious or ceremonial purposes. Most fire pits, chimneys, patio hearths, fire tables and other similar devices are elevated from the ground and fabricated from steel, concrete or clay with a screening around the firebox.

So the short answer is “probably not,” providing you are using the device within certain conditions:

  • The fire must be fueled by clean, seasoned firewood, natural gas or other clean burning fuel (with emissions equal to or less than that created by seasoned firewood)
  • The fire is not used for disposal of waste.
  • The fire’s total fuel area can be no more than three feet in diameter and no higher than two feet.
  • The fire cannot be deemed hazardous, even when within these parameters.

Materials That Can Never Be Burned

Fire codes strictly prohibit the burning of certain materials at any time and in any circumstance. They are:

  • Materials containing rubber, grease, asphalt or items made from petroleum, such as tires, auto parts, plastics or plastic-coated wire
  • Garbage, including wastes from food processing, handling, preparation or consumption
  • Carcasses of dead animals