Once upon a time, outdoor living must-haves included two key items: a deck and a grill. Today’s homeowners are getting far more creative, adding slightly more exotic elements such as ponds, entire outdoor kitchens, and fire pits. While each of these additions can certainly add a new dimension to your outdoor recreation, they also bring some added responsibility and risk. Today we’re going to help you consider — and hopefully avoid — the potential pitfalls of installing a fire pit.
Fire Pit Regulations
Some municipalities ban or otherwise regulate open fires. Some cities require you to apply for a permit and can issue fines if you fail to secure a permit before installing a fire pit. Many permits include details of safety measures and limit fires to days when wind won’t make the smoke from your fire a nuisance for your neighbors. So before you begin planning and purchasing for your fire pit, be sure to check with local authorities. (Your local fire department or fire marshal is a good place to start.)
If you live in an area that’s prone to wild fires or where other factors heighten the related risks, your homeowners insurance policy may require you to disclose your fire pit plans. Be sure to ask your insurance agent how your coverage might be impacted.
Fire Pit Location
Once you make sure your fire pit is legal, the main focus of your fire pit preparation should be safety; and the most significant issue relating to safety is your fire pit’s location.
• First, make sure you’re choosing an open space with proper ventilation and a solid, level surface.
• Second, pay attention to any overhanging trees or roof lines in your yard, and make sure your fire wouldn’t be beneath them.
• Third, be sure your chosen location is a safe distance from any flammable combustible materials. A safe distance that ensures flames or sparks can’t reach leaves or branches of trees or outer edges of buildings is typically between 10 and 20 feet.
Fire Pit Precautions
Each time you make a fire, you’ll want to take a few important precautions. For instance, keep a garden hose and fire extinguisher accessible whenever your fire pit is in use. To keep fires from getting out of hand, refrain from starting them when wind is present and refrain from using lighter fluid or other flammable liquids to start fires. Especially if you’re the one in charge of starting and stoking the fire, make sure you’re wearing clothing that’s not loose-fitting enough to become a hazard and that your clothing is not made from flammable fabric (such as nylon). And when you’re ready to go in for the night, be sure to put the fire thoroughly out first: simply let it die down and then pour water over the embers to extinguish them completely.
Once you’ve made sure all these important safety considerations have been planned for, it’s time for the fun part of checking out your options!