Fire pits can be a valuable addition to the home. Fire pits add a certain ambiance to outdoor entertaining, can be visually appealing, and don’t cost a lot to use. Many people have a fire pit in backyard areas. There are many fire pit options to choose from – high end to low, handmade to portable. There is a style out there for everyone.
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Where To Locate Your Fire Pit
Once you understand the local laws, your fire pit needs to be located in a space a minimum of 10 feet away from buildings and other combustible structures or materials such as sheds, fences, decking, shrubs, trees, etc. Also, think about ensuring a vertical clearance of about 21 feet. Hot air rises – the farther away from the house or other buildings, the smaller fire hazard.
Whether portable or not, the firepit shouldn’t be put close to boundaries, overhead power lines, or underground utilities. Fire pits should be placed in a space that is clear, level, and stable.
In-ground fire pits should be lined using non-combustible material such as bricks and mortar. The base should be gravel or sand.
The fire pit should be encircled by a border of sand, gravel, paving, or other non-combustible material.
A responsible adult must attend the backyard fire pit at all times until the fire pit has been fully extinguished. Emergency fire equipment must be located nearby in case of an emergency. This includes a portable fire extinguisher, garden hose, or a bucket of sand.
Any fire pit that burns with an open flame needs to be covered with a fireproof mesh for safety and to prevent sparks escaping. Do not use liquid accelerants on your fire. The fire pit is not suitable for burning food waste, toxic or chemical waste, plastic or rubber, or petroleum products. Refer to local government guidelines.
Make sure you do not light a fire on air quality alert days, or fire ban days. Don’t put a fire in a high wind area. Don’t light a fire if it contravenes regulations or upsets the neighbors.
What Kind Of Fuel To Use
Wood is the most natural fuel. Although it contributes to greenhouse gasses and particulate matter in the environment, it is a great fire pit for cooking. There is something compulsive about staring into the flames. Wood can be expensive, depending on your location and what is available. A wood-burning fire pit creates work for the user. Wood needs to be gathered and chopped, and there needs to be a suitable storage area close enough to the fire pit, but at least a few feet away. After it’s burned, there is a mess of ash and coals that need regular cleaning up and removing. Ash is good for the garden beds.
It is clean, emits much less particulate matter, and is safe to use as a cooking flame. The downside is that this kind of fire pit needs to be permanently placed and attached to the gas line. This is usually an expensive installation involving bringing the gas line away from the house and means that you can’t move the fire pit in the future. Natural gas produces 99% fewer emissions than wood.
Many consider this the best option for fuelling a fire pit. The flame is clean and warm and can be used for cooking. The fuel is cost-effective. This outdoor pit fire can be quite mobile and can be moved anywhere to take advantage of changing weather conditions. The best thing about a gas fire pit is that once you have enjoyed it, you can safely put the fire out and be confident that it is safe.
This fuel is portable and convenient. It can be hard to purchase in some areas. You can buy wood infused with the gel to use in any fireplace, but it has only half of the heat output of other fuels. Cooking on this flame is not recommended.
It is also possible to purchase an electric fire pit too. This has faux flames that look somewhat like the real thing but must be close to a power source.
The style of fire pit depends on the fuel and the planned use. Some people build their fire pits with heat-safe bricks and a little ingenuity. Circular or square, there really are no rules about this. A wood fire pit needs to have airflow built into it. It needs access for cleaning and safety barriers built-in as well.
In most areas, local fire authorities will have rules in place that govern the use of fire pits and other fuel-burning accessories for the home. These regulations might cover what type of fuel is allowed, the firepit location, hours of use, and even the type of fire pit. It may be that it must be a covered fire pit. These regulations will probably be more strict in areas where there is a high fire risk; or is highly urbanized; or if air quality is an issue.
Fire Pit Safety
The most important thing about owning a fire pit is understanding fire pit safety.
Understand local weather conditions and try to place the fire pit where it can be protected from high winds and where the smoke drift will have minimal impact on neighbors. Don’t put the fire pit near high traffic areas. Ensure there is adequate space between the fireplace and furniture around the fire. Allow enough room to move without people having to squeeze past the fire pit.
Alcohol consumption and fire pits are a dangerous combination. Stumbling and staggering near an outdoor fire pit is asking for trouble.
Children are the most likely to be hurt in an accident with a fire pit in the backyard. The comment usually accompanies any accident with children is”it happened so fast.” Children move very fast, and if the supervising adult is not vigilant, accidents can happen, and it is then too late to do anything to help the suffering child. Jostling for position near the flames is very dangerous. Leaving a fire alone before the coals are completely extinguished can be a death trap. Not just that the child might fall in, but if the embers happen to reignite and spread to nearby flammable materials.
Don’t allow children to play near the fire pit, make rules against running or fooling around, as you would with a swimming pool. Establish safe boundaries. If they want to toast marshmallows, make rules they can all understand and enforce them.
At least 5,300 injuries related to fire pits or outdoor heaters were treated at emergency rooms in the U.S. in 2017. A quarter of burn victims from fire pits are children under five years.
Third and fourth-degree burn injuries are catastrophic because they permanently damage the victim. These burns cause severe and extensive disfigurement, nerve damage, and even the loss of a limb. Medical treatment for severe burns includes applying skin grafts onto the affected area and administering antibiotics to avoid infections. The patient can suffer serious complications. These include secondary infections, organ damage, and other life-threatening conditions. Living with the results of a serious burn is traumatic and difficult. Scars are disfiguring, uncomfortable, and sometimes permanently painful.