Fire pit safety - How far from house?

Fire Pit Safety: How Far Should a Fire Pit Be From a House?

If you love sitting in your backyard visiting with friends and neighbors, even on chilly nights, you need an outdoor fireplace. 

Fire pits come in all sizes and shapes and make it easy to enjoy being outdoors even if the weather isn’t perfect. 

But putting your fire pit in the right location is crucial! Let’s face it, getting fire too close to trees and your home is never a good idea. So how far should a fire pit be from a house then?

As a general rule, you should keep your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your home and anything else flammable, such as trees and bushes.

Let’s find out more about fire pit safety.

Are There Regulations on Residential Fire Pits?

Most homeowners’ associations and local ordinances have rules about fire pits outside your home. It should be easy to find out precisely what these rules are. 

Some rules will tell you when you can and cannot use these fire pits, the size limitations, and even the location of the fire pit. 

Fire pit far from the house on the backyard

In fact, it’s a good idea to check your local regulations. Check them before you buy the pit because those rules can affect the type you end up buying.

Keep in mind that if you aren’t familiar with the rules and do something wrong, you can be held responsible for your actions! That includes getting tickets and/or fines. 

Burning Trash Is Regulated

Garbage burning in your fire pit is one of the worst things you can do! It releases toxins and produces lots of smoke. 

However, if you’re going to burn trash in the fire pit, you’ll find some areas are stricter than others. There might be restrictions on how, when, and where you can use that pit. 

It might also be illegal in many places. Thus, you won’t be able to use your fire pit to burn trash.

Where To Find Rules?

Suppose you have no homeowners’ association and you’re unsure where to find the rules about fire pits?

In that case, you can always contact the local police department. They should be able to tell you anything you need to know.   

Overhead Clearance Rules

Keep in mind that many places also require that you have a clearance of 21 feet above the fire pit so that the fire doesn’t reach any overhead branches. 

You also need to keep the pit at least 10 feet away from fences, sheds, and anything else that might catch on fire. So it’s not only your house and trees that you need to scout.

Distance to Your Property’s Boundary and to the Power Lines

Besides all these tips, you should keep in mind that most regulations will specify how close you can keep the fire pit to the border of your property. 

Your county or municipality can tell you just how close your pit can come to your own property. 

Close-up of a fire pit

This rule is there to protect your neighbors’ property should a flame accidentally cross over onto someone else’s land. 

If you have power lines anywhere near your property, you’ll have to keep the fire pit away from them as well.

How to Operate Your Fire Pit: Some Do’s and Don’ts

Naturally, every aspect of operating your fire pit needs to be done carefully.

  • You can start by making sure the pit is never placed on uneven ground, since this could result in the pit tipping over and causing the fire to spread. 
  • When you start the fire, use only dry, seasoned woodcut a minimum of six months earlier. The logs should also never be any longer than three-quarters of the pit’s diameter; otherwise, they are simply too big to be safe.
  • If you have a gas fire pit, only use the type of fuel that the pit was made to use and nothing else. Never use kerosene, lighter fluid, or gas when you start the flames. 

How to Put Out a Fire Pit Safely

In most cases, fires in fire pits should be extinguished using water or sand. You can also use a regular garden hose if you’re interested in using water to douse the flames.  

You’ll also need to check the instructions from the manufacturer of your fire pit. Ceramic pits, for example, can sometimes crack when you spray them with water.

Have a fire extinguisher nearby 

If you want to be extra careful, having a fire extinguisher nearby is always a good idea. It can prevent emergencies from happening.  

You can use an extinguisher such as the one in your kitchen, which is either a dry-chemical extinguisher of Class B or C, or even a multipurpose one.

 If you don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher, remember the PASS method: 

  • Pull the pin, 
  • Aim at the base of the fire, 
  • Squeeze the trigger slowly, and 
  • Sweep the nozzles from side to side. 

Keep in mind that most fire extinguishers used in the kitchen last for 8 to 10 seconds and range from 6 to 10 feet.

Old fire extinguisher

How to Choose the Right Fire Pit

The type of fire pit you choose contributes significantly to its safety features. 

Start by looking for pits made out of either brick, heavy-duty metal, or stone to make them non-combustible. 

They should also have enclosed sides that are a minimum of 6 to 12 inches high. If your pit needs a liner, that liner needs to be non-combustible as well – try using one that is a heavy-gauge metal or even brick and mortar. 

What do you put around a fire pit?

Burning debris, ash, and sparks, can accidentally end up on the outside of the burning area. Adding a non-combustible border around your fire pit can make things safer. Make a border of sand or gravel for the best results.

Although it may sound like common sense, never start a fire in the pit until you’ve removed anything combustible in the area around the pit. This includes leaves, brush, pine needles, mulch, or anything else capable of catching on fire. 

The Bottom Line

It’s recommended that you keep your fire pit at least 10 feet away from your home and any trees or bushes. But there are many other factors to note as well.

By taking care of all those crucial aspects discussed in this article, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience with your fire pit. Practicing some common sense helps.