6 Fire Pit Rules That Are Smart To Follow

One of the great delights during the summertime is sitting around a fire pit with friends and family.

That said, there are a number of conditions revolving around fire pits in terms of both safety and properly building one.

So what kind of fire pit regulations are there? While there are provincial or state laws revolving around these, there are some general rules that apply to all fire pits.

Here are the 6 fire pit rules this post discusses:

  1. Check wind conditions
  2. Build The Fire In An Open Spot
  3. Never Use Construction Lumber
  4. Have An Extinguishing Plan
  5. Never Leave A Fire Alone
  6. Drink Responsibly

Below, I’ve spent some time outlining the specifics to these rules and guidelines to help you ensure you start thinking about how you can have a safer fire pit experience.

And in case you’re very new to firepits and fires, check out our guide on how to light a fire pit.

Cropped view of fireman holding red extinguisher while standing near white board with fire safety lettering

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Check Wind Conditions

Before starting up a fire pit, it’s smart to know what the weather is like. The main concern is to avoid windy days. Fires need air, of course, that’s why most firepits have air holes.

The reason for that is that wind makes it difficult to light up the fire pit since it’ll blow the sparks around the surrounding area.

What’s worse is those sparks are enough to cause a fire to those areas if they fall onto the brush or wooden structures.

If there is a little bit of wind, it should be alright. That said, you should check the direction. The fire of course produces smoke and if there is the wind, that smoke will blow in the opposite direction.

By knowing the direction of the wind, you can get people to sit on the upwind side of the pit to stay clear of the smoke. It will also help minimize any potential damage if your firepit is on your deck or near it.

Build The Fire In An Open Spot

If you have a portable fire pit, you can position this in the open. If you’re planning to build your own stationary one, make sure it’s in the open.

When you go about lighting it, be sure that there is nothing overhanging as you are getting ready to light it.

Furthermore, keep the immediate area around the pit clear.

Even if there isn’t any wind, stray sparks can blow out of fire and potentially ignite something nearby if your fire pit isn’t clean around the surrounding area.

It’s also a good idea to ensure you’re using an adequate base for your firepit. This will help ensure that your fire pit doesn’t damage your patio or other areas.

Never Use Construction Lumber

In order to start a fire, you need wood of course. But you want to make sure you are using the right kind of wood to burn. While most think of any kind of woodwork, it doesn’t.

This is why you need to be careful and mindful when choosing a firepit for your wood deck.

As a rule, you want to avoid any wood used in construction like plywood, chemically treated wood, pressure-treated boards and posts, and MDF.

The reason for that is they have chemical resins, adhesives and other substances on them.

Burning them would cause the fumes to have toxic properties so it’s not good for you to breathe that in or be roasting marshmallows with it.

And in case you’re using a different type of fuel, never burn wood in a gas fire pit.

The ideal wood to burn is branches from oak trees. You can also purchase seasoned hardwood kindling or logs. Softwoods are another alternative, however, they’re not as efficient, and give off more sparks and smoke.

Have An Extinguishing Plan

Another general rule is to have methods to extinguish a fire quickly at all times. While it’s pleasant to be around, fire is still fire. It can cause damage if left alone.

Even if you’ve got the fire pit in a safe spot and have ensured everything is safe, you still want to bring a shovel and water bucket with you in case.

An emergency could happen and it’s better if you can act at that moment rather than running off to get tools to put out a flame. This will help ensure your safety with outdoor fire pits.

A fire only needs a few seconds to spread and cause all kinds of damage.

On that note, if you have children, make sure they know how to stop drop and roll in order to put out the flames.

It’s also smart to have a fire blanket on hand too.

Tips on how to safely put out a campfire

Never Leave A Fire Alone

Even if you’ve extinguished the flames and all that is left is glowing embers, don’t leave it around.

Even if you’re gone for a moment, make a point of having someone around at the fire to keep an eye on it.

While we think tiny flames seem harmless, they can still cause fires if they are left alone. Remember that blazing forest fires all start with a single spark.

While you might not start a forest fire in your backyard, you still don’t want to be dealing with a raging fire if it can be prevented. It’s also best practice to have a ring for your firepit.

Drink Responsibly

The final thing to keep in mind around the fire pit is to drink responsibly. While there is no problem drinking beer or wine around the fire pit, remember that alcohol and fire don’t mix well.

Alcohol is flammable, however excessive drinking will cause impaired coordination, reflexes and judgement to the drinker.

If friends or family are planning to drink, get them to keep it in moderation to avoid injuries or accidents.

Be sure to keep people at a safe distance and have some plans in the event that accidents occur due to alcohol.

Stay Safe, Burn Safely

Fire pits are nice, but always be mindful of safety. Ensure that before starting a fire pit you check the state or provincial rules for fire pits. Check to see if there are no-burn alerts in your area.

On top of that, practice these safety measures to ensure that you are burning in a safe and secure way.

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Final Notes

It doesn’t take much for a safe fire to become an emergency situation. But it also doesn’t take much to be proactive and significantly reduce this risk.

Whenever you’re getting ready to start a fire, take some time to ensure you are doing it as safely as possible.