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Fire Pit: Distance from House, Safety Rules & Guidelines

Relaxing around a fire in your backyard with your friends and family is one of the best ways to spend a cool evening. In recent years, more and more people have started transforming their backyards into an extension of the living areas of their homes. As with a living room, many people choose to have a fire feature as the focal point of the space. Unfortunately, due to the increase in popularity, the number of fire-related injuries and accidents is on the rise as well. The good news is that with the proper safety precautions, a fire pit can be safely enjoyed by the whole family.

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Mega Fire Pit

This propane fire pit is a classic, but also our largest in diameter – perfect for big backyard BBQs. This heavy-duty fire pit can stand on your patio all year long.
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Fire safety comes down to two main categories: prevention of accidental fires and prevention of injuries. The basics of fire safety really are common sense, although different towns and counties likely have their own local recommendations and ordinances in place. Because common sense is the main part of knowing what to do in case of an emergency, fire-related personal injuries do happen quite frequently. Those difficult lessons have taught many a person what not to do when the fire is involved. By utilizing our advice and safety tips, you will be able to safely enjoy many incident-free evenings around the fire with your favorite people.

Regulations on Residential Fire Pits

When it comes to finding out the specific regulations for having a fire pit at your home, there is a good chance that you can contact your homeowners’ association or local authorities to find out the exact rules for your location. There may be rules about the hours of use, type of pet allowed, the size, and location. Knowing the specific guidelines before adding a fire pit to your yard can prevent you from receiving potential fines and tickets.

Regulations on burning refuse tend to be more strict in certain areas. Some urban areas, places with poor air quality, and high fire hazard zones are likely to have tighter rules about burning. Depending on the circumstances, your area may have a permanent burn ban in place. If you are not allowed to have a wood-burning fire pit at all, you may be allowed to use a fuelled fire pit instead as they burn much more cleanly and don’t pose as big of a fire threat as the wood-burning variety. You should still pay attention to propane fire pit safety, but the risk is much different than wood pits.

If you are unable to find the local ordinances regarding using a fire pit in your yard, here is a list of some common regulations that you will see all across the United States:

Fire Pit Distance From House, Property Line, and Other Structures

  • The first rule of thumb as far as placing your fire pit is to make sure it is a safe distance from the building and other structures and items that are flammable. This includes your house, sheds, fences, bushes, trees, and shrubs. Make sure to check the specifics on how far away from the house a fire pit should be in your area. This also reduced issues with wind direction pushing toxic fumes your way.

  • Most places require a clearance above the fire pit of 21 feet, to allow for overhead branches.

  • Be mindful of your property line. Many places have restrictions on how close a fire pit is allowed to be to the border of your property. The distance varies depending on your county or municipality, so be sure to check out the specifics where you live.

  • Avoid placing your fire pit on uneven ground.

  • Make sure you are not placing your fire pit underneath any power lines.

Type of Fire Pit

  • Whether your fire pit is portable or in the ground, it should have enclosed sides that are 6-12 inches high at the very least. It should also be made of materials that aren’t combustible such as heavy-duty metal, brick, or stone.

  • If you choose to build an in-ground fire pit, it needs to be lined with material that is non-combustible, such as a heavy gauge metal or brick and mortar.

  • When building your pit, there should be a base underneath the fire pit that is at least ten inches deep. Make your base out of materials such a rock, sand, or gravel. This non-combustible base allows you to build a fire without that fire coming into direct contact with the earth.

  • Always be sure to add a border around your fire pit in case any burning debris accidentally ends up outside of your burning area. This border should be made from at least sand or gravel. If you’re feeling fancy, you can make a patio from paving stones around the fire pit.

  • To ensure your fire pit is within recreational sizing guidelines, do not create an open fire larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high.

Operation Guidelines

  • One of the most important things you can do when prepping your fire pit area is removing any combustible materials from around the pit. Any mulch, brush, leaves, and pine needles should be removed. You can collect it and use it in your fire as a starter or kindling to get things going. Many local laws say the distance that needs to be cleaned around the pit is anywhere between 15 and 25 feet.

  • There should always be a responsible adult tending to the fire until it has been extinguished completely.

  • Many local laws say that you must have a mesh screen cover handy to contain any sparks and embers that may get out of control.

  • You must keep fire suppression equipment close enough that it can be used immediately if the fire should start to become a problem. Acceptable items would be a fire extinguisher, garden hose, water buckets, and sand.

  • You must keep the fire in outdoor fire pits to a reasonable and controllable size.

  • Keep a bucket of sand nearby to help in an emergency, or if windy conditions increase.

  • The only firewood allowed is dry, clean, and seasoned firewood; no lighter fluid or other flammable materials may be used.

Do Not Burn:

  • Wood products that contain glue or resin

  • Garbage, including food waste

  • Treated or unpainted wood, like materials from wood decks.

  • Unseasoned or wet wood

  • Animal carcasses

  • Yard waste

  • Construction material

  • Anything that will release toxic emissions, strong odors, or dense smoke when burned

  • Materials that contain grease, plastic, asphalt, paint, rubber.

The Simple Solution

DIY solutions an often lead to inherent safety and liability issues, in addition to being far more heavily restricted in urban and suburban areas. A common way to ensure you are following safety guidelines and fire pit regulations is to buy one that has already been tested and certified safe like the ones from Outland Living. You can find fire pits for both wood and propane fuel sources. Often these are permitted in more locations because of the safety and protective equipment that comes with them.

Usually, no matter your location, the most reliable solution is to simply purchase a safe, tested, and certified solution! 

Our selection

Oakridge Wood Fire Pit

This wood-burning fire pit is perfect for cooking and keeping warm in the backyard – fully accessorized with a protective mesh lid, grill grate, and poker tool.
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Fire safety is important for every member of the family to follow. If you are planning on having a fire with your loved ones around the fire pit in your backyard, be sure to practice proper fire safety to prevent emergencies and injuries.

Common questions

How far does a fire pit need to be away from the house?
At least 10 feet (or 3 meters) away from any structure is recommended. The distance varies depending on your county or municipality, so be sure to check out the specifics where you live.
Where should I put a fire pit in my backyard?
Check the specifics on how far away from the house (and property line) a fire pit should be in your area. Avoid placing your fire pit on uneven ground, underneath any power lines, or overhead branches.
What should you put under a fire pit?
There should be a base underneath your fire pit that is at least 10 inches deep. Make your base out of materials such a rock, sand, or gravel.