Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are becoming a popular feature in many residential back yards. They are relatively inexpensive and provide ambiance and relaxation during a cool evening. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, they can be as simple as a metal bowl with a protective screen, the popular chimineas or more elaborate and expensive outdoor fireplaces. Local codes, Ohio Fire Code and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency permit these types of open burning with restrictions.
- Recreational “small” fires must be confined to an approved outdoor container if the open burn is within 50 feet of a structure.
- The container keeps the size of the fire to less than three feet in width and no higher than two feet as required by the fire code and EPA.
- The small fire is controlled by the burn container, which reduces the fire exposure risk to nearby structures.
When it comes time to use your fire pit etc., here are some important tips to keep in mind.
- The fire pit or approved container must be at least 15 feet away from any structure or combustible surface that can catch fire. This minimal distance is per national, state and local fire code requirements for open burning in approved containers.
- Avoid windy conditions that can blow hot embers onto combustible surfaces. It’s possible that conditions in Ohio could prompt burn bans depending on dry weather conditions.
- Remove leaves and other combustible materials around the pit to ensure the fire doesn’t accidentally spread.
- Always have a container of water nearby and a garden hose on standby before starting the fire.
- Do not use lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline to start a fire because of the risks of severe burn injuries. Instead, place a crumpled piece of paper or cardboard or a store-bought fire starter and cover with kindling. As the wood catches fire, add larger pieces until you’re able to add a dry seasoned log or two.
- Keep children and pets a minimum of three feet from the open burn.
- Extinguish a fire by spreading the ashes over a large surface area to cool. Then, pour water over them to make sure they are completely extinguished Ashes can re-ignite.
- If you have a fire that escapes your fire pit and moves into a nearby pile of kindling or a combustible surface, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Check your home insurance policy to ensure that you’re properly covered when using an approved outdoor fire container.
- Permanent outdoor fireplaces can present zoning issues if there are existing deed restrictions and/or property set back requirements which restrict any type of structure constructed.
- Keep in mind that outdoor fire containers can produce smoke pollutants, which can be a health hazard to you and your neighbors. They can also produce smoke scares during night- time hours, if the source of the smoke is not readily apparent. These calls are treated as potential fires, committing firefighters and equipment until the source of the smoke is identified.
– Information provided by Washington Township Fire & EMS