Whether you already have a fire pit or are planning to add one, invest some effort in reviewing fire pit safety. This is especially important if you’re new to using a fire pit. It only takes a second for a cozy fire to burst into a blazing inferno. Ensure you get the most enjoyment from your fire pit by keeping family and friends safe.
Fire pit safety starts with selecting the right site. Make sure the ground is level, especially when using a portable fire pit. Keep fires located at least 15 to 25 feet away from surrounding plants, as well as from nearby buildings, including your home. Check with your local city and county authorities to make sure you observe the distance required by law.
Never operate your fire pit beneath a building overhang or in a partially enclosed space. Use special caution related to overhanging trees, which can easily ignite from flying wood-fire sparks. In fire-prone areas, surround your fire pit with non-combustible materials, like crushed stone, brick, or sand.
In wood-stoked fire pits, safety begins with fuel. Only burn wood that’s been seasoned at least six months. Avoid using construction materials, such as plywood or composite woods, which can release toxic fumes when burned. Softwoods, like pine and birch, tend to produce more crackles and sparks than seasoned hardwoods, like oak or hickory. For wood-burning fire pits, cut logs so their length is less than three-quarters the diameter of the pit. Never use lighter fluid or gasoline to start a fire in a fire pit.
If your fire pit has a screen, use it whenever you’re burning. It’s also a good idea to have a bucket of sand or garden hose handy to deal with wayward sparks from wood fires. Attach a hose-end multi-pattern nozzle to the hose, setting it to “spray.” A shower-type spray douses a flare up, while a direct stream of water can spread sparks.
Keep fire gloves nearby to handle hot parts of the fire pit safely. Position chairs so folks can rise and move about seats without risking tumbling into the fire. Built-in seating prevents seats from being drawn too close to the flames; so do heavier chairs. Keep an eye on children whenever a fire pit is being used. Don’t allow them to get too close to the blaze.
Avoid lighting a fire in windy conditions.
When you’re done enjoying your fire for the evening, douse it properly. Most manufactured fire pits offer specific instructions for extinguishing a fire. Review the instructions before it’s time to put out your fire. Water can crack ceramic fire pits and some metal ones.
CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Regulations on
Campfires, Bonfires, Fire Pits, Chimineas and Other Similar Devices
The burning of wood in a campfire, bonfire, chiminea or other similar devices is prohibited if the burning is conducted so that it creates a nuisance for neighbors or it is in violation of any restrictions imposed on such burning by your local municipality.
Campfires and/or bonfires are not defined by state statute or regulation; however, some towns have special requirements to conduct this type of burning and may require the homeowner to obtain a permit prior to having a campfire on his or her property. Special requirements may include: limiting the size of such fires; setback distances from structures and/or property lines; lot size; and requiring campfires and/or bonfires to be permitted. Please check with your local Open Burning Official, Fire Marshal or town hall for any restrictions or requirements.
Camp/Bonfire, Fire Pit, & Chiminea Complaints
Smoke, nuisance odors, or other complaints regarding campfires, chimineas, fire pits, or other similar devices are best directed to your Open Burning Official and/or local Fire Marshal. Please visit your town's website to obtain the appropriate contact information.
Issues or concerns relating to the health effects created or experienced from burning in these types of devices should be directed to your local Open Burning Official as well as your local Health Department.
In the case of an emergency please call 911 or your local Fire Department.
Incomplete combustion that typically occurs when wood is burned in a campfire, bonfire, fire pit, chiminea or similar device can create large amounts of smoke and un-burnt particulate matter; this pollutes the air and can make it difficult for people with respiratory problems to breathe, particularly in densely populated areas. Excessive smoke emitted into the atmosphere at ground level can be a nuisance to your neighbors.
A nuisance is considered to be the unreasonable, unwarranted, or unlawful use of one’s property in a manner that substantially interferes with the use or enjoyment of another individual’s real property, without an actual trespass or physical invasion to the land.
Check with your town, which may have special requirements to conduct this type of burning and may require the homeowner to obtain a permit prior to having a campfire/bonfire on his or her property.
Burn only clean, non-processed wood. No wood pallets, construction debris, painted wood, stained/treated wood, or garbage can be burned in a campfire/bonfire, fire pit, chiminea or other similar device. Non-processed wood is considered to be any untreated, natural wood up to and including rough cut lumber. Processed wood is considered to be any wood that has been milled and/or planed and includes recycled wood, glued wood, treated wood, pallets, crates, and/or wood scraps from these types of materials.
Safety Concerns: When burning wood in a campfire/bonfire or in one of the above-mentioned devices, the utmost caution must be exercised to prevent injury to yourself or others and to prevent damage to your home or property.