Do I Need a Burn Permit for a Fire Pit: What to Consider

February 4, 2020

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Gone are the days when people look for grills in the backyard when they buy a house.

Nowadays, there are many new amenities like a fire pit and an outdoor kitchen, which are becoming a trend.

Having a fire pit in your backyard seems like a great idea, especially in winter, but before burning a fire pit, you must ask, "Do I need a burn permit for a fire pit?"

The answer to the above question can be "yes or no" because different areas have different regulations regarding a burn permit.

It's not necessary to have a burn permit in some areas while some are very strict about the rules.

Do I Need a Burn Permit for a Fire Pit?

Just to make sure there is no need for a burn permit in your area, you should call the fire department or local authority.

If there is no restriction, you are good to go else get a burn permit.

You can also ask your homeowner's insurance if you find it awkward to call the fire department.

In some areas, homeowners burn the fire pit without a permit, but they should keep in mind that the size of the pit should be small, and it must be located at a specific distance from a structure.

The Purpose of a Burn Permit

You may think, "Why do I need a burn permit for a bonfire?".

God forbid if anything terrible happens, or fire spreads, the officers in the fire department will know where it is happening.

The notification will allow officers to be prepared beforehand so that the situation does not get worse.

One more purpose of a burn permit is to protect people and reassure them about the situation.

Not only the neighbors, but the burn permit will also help officers to protect all other people who get affected.

When Do You Need a Burn Permit?

Let's take an example. You want to invite your friends to your place for dinner, and you want a recreational bonfire for a change.

Will you need a burn permit for a small gathering?

The answer may vary from place to place, but most of the time, you need a burn permit.

A burn permit is necessary in this case because most people don't own a fire pit.

They are either having a bonfire or recreational fire in the ground.

If you don't own a fire pit or your fire pit is not constructed accurately, get a burn permit before any kind of activity.

A simple spark of fire can cause a lot of damage. Hence, it is essential to get a burn permit to avoid any consequences.

When Don't You Need a Burn Permit?

You don't need a permit for every kind of fire.

If you are grilling or cooking food outdoors with your family, you don't need a burn permit.

In addition, if the food you are cooking is for commercial purposes, it will not be allowed without a license.

If you have a proper fire pit in your courtyard, there is no need to get a burn permit even for recreational fires, unless the fire is more than three feet.

The reason is the fire pits are specially designed to keep the fire in a closed space; therefore, the fire is not dangerous when it's inside a hole.

To put simply, any fire more extensive than three feet needs a burn permit from the concerned authority as there are many risks involved.

Conditions on Which a Burn Permit is Granted

There are specific rules that you need to follow to get a burn permit, including:

1. A fire pit must be 15 feet far away from your home, trees, and fences.

The fire pit should not be in a garden near plants or any tree.

It's vital to build a fire pit as far as possible to your home.

2. You must take some precautionary measures to get a burn pit.

You should keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose, or water bucket near the fire pit.

In case of any unfortunate situation, just put the water on the fire and try to cool down.

Immediately call the fire department if you think you can't handle the situation.

3. In case the fire becomes too big or uncontrollable, shut it down.

You can easily cover the fire pit with a lid so that the fire dies down inside whenever you want.

The emergency valve should be in a range of six feet for quick shutoffs.

4. There is a specific burning time that needs to follow.

You cannot burn the fire pit before 6:00 AM and after 10:00 PM from Sunday to Thursday.

From Friday to Saturday, you can turn on the fire pit till midnight.

Precautionary Measures

Whenever you turn on the fire in a fire pit, you should take some specific preventive measures to avoid any unforeseen situation.

Here are some of the essential ones:

1. Do Not Use Flammable Fluids

Flammable fluids, for instance, gasoline and lighter fluid should not be used to light up the fire.

These fluids burn quickly in the standard atmosphere, which can cause severe damage, so you should avoid using them.

2. Check the Direction of the Wind

Make sure to check the direction of the wind before lightening the fire pit, so that wind doesn't spoil your evening.

3. Wear Appropriate Clothing

Try to avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes as they can easily catch fire.

4. Keep Children and Pets Away

Don't let the children and pets come near the fire. Keep them at a distance of a minimum of three feet.

5. Wait for the Pit to Cool Down Before Leaving It

Most people leave the fire at the end as it will extinguish on its own.

Don't do this in any case as it may result in anything dangerous, and don't leave the fire pit until it cools down completely.

 6. Clean the Area

It is essential to clean the area near the fire pit so that there will be no combustible material available like leaves and paper since they can easily catch fire. 

Materials You Can Burn

There are a few other materials instead of wood which you can burn in a fire pit.

Keep in mind that you can't use any wood you want to burn.

The best options for your fire pit are natural hardwood or manufactured logs.

The seasoned dry wood burns hotter and cleaner so you can use them as well.

One other natural resource, like charcoal, can be used in a fire pit for clean-burning, but most people use charcoal in charcoal-fired grills.

Material You Can Not Burn

There are several types of woods that you shouldn't burn since they will be destructive.

The wood treated and painted earlier should be avoided.

Pines and cedar, which are known as softwood, are also prohibited from burning as they throw sparks.

You should never burn garbage at your home as it will contain several numbers of toxins harmful to your health.

Also, the cardboard produces tiny pieces of ignited paper, which cause a fire risk, so you should avoid cardboard as well.

Types of Fire Pits

If you don't own a fire pit and looking for one, start with permanence.

There are two types of a fire pit. One can be fixed in your yard at a specific place while the other one is portable.

A permanent fire pit can be built in your backyard.

You can get the complete kit from any hardware store and assemble it yourself.

Just make sure the place you use is far away from your house and trees.

Portable fire pits are chimney-style vents that can be placed anywhere.

You need to set the fire pit before lightening the fire correctly, and always set this portable fire pit at a fire-resistant place, such as bricks.

Our Top Recommendations

We have reviewed our favorite tools for you so that you can decide and buy these tools promptly.

1. Dagan Spark Screen

 

 

 

The Dagan Spark Screen has a sturdy 31" diameter steel frame with woven mesh construction, and the heavy-duty paint ensures protection against the weather.

With a 31 inches diameter, you can easily fit the spark screen on a fire pit.

The screen is easy to carry as it is lightweight. After putting the screen on the top of a burning fire pit, carefully touch the screen as it may get hot.

The spark screen is easy to clean, as well. You can wipe the screen with a damp cloth.

Keep maintaining the screen; otherwise, it will start rusting and becomes useless.

Pros:

  • Good size for range of fire pits
  • Made of sturdy, long-lasting metal
  • Lightweight
  • Convenient to us

Cons:

  • Metal gets rusty very soon; proper care needed
  • The handle is not heat-resistant; gets warm quickly

 

2. Good Directions 8815PR Eagle Cottage Weathervane

When it comes to exterior clocks and copper tools, Good Directions is a trusted name.

Founded in 1988, they have always focused on producing tools made of copper, which makes Good Directions a different and reliable brand by its customers.

Just like it's other products, Eagle Cottage weathervane is made of superior quality copper spacer balls and directionals made of solid brass.

The eagle is hand-crafted by the American artisans with their traditional methods.

The material is water-proof and stays strong in all kinds of weather, which makes it last long until decades.

The only change occurs in the color of polished copper finish that fades away with the passage of the time.

The roof mount weathervane comes with an assembly rod that stands tall on your rooftops; the fully functional arrow points towards the direction of the wind.

The size of the weathervane is ideal for smaller houses, sheds, and gazebos.

The Eagle Cottage weathervane is expensive but worth the investment.

Pros:

  • Appealing design
  • Superior quality
  • Tells accurate directions
  • Works in all weather conditions

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Designed for rooftops
  • Difficult assembly

 

3. Red Dragon Wood Moisture Meter

 

A handy tool for checking the humidity in wood, the Red Dragon provides simple and accurate testing. The two pins penetrate into the wood to give you the moisture reading. 

The back lit digital LCD display is easy to read when outdoors especially in the dark. 

The ideal moisture content for firewood is 20% or less (well seasoned firewood).

Cost effective, recommended and used by lumber and timber yard workers too.

 

Final Thoughts

"Do I need a burn permit for a fire pit?"

If you own a fire pit made of rocks, you don't need a burn permit for recreational fires, but if you don't own a proper fire pit, you have to get a fire permit.

The fire permit is free of cost, and its validity remains for a year, so after one year, you have to obtain a new license.

In short, if you don't need a fire permit, make sure to follow all the precautionary measures before lighting the fire.

It will not only make your experience smooth but save others from a lot of hassles.

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