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How to Safely Create A Fire Pit for Your Home

The summer season may make a fire pit sound ideal for your property, but before you set to work on one here is some important information to keep handy:

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON FIRE PITS

  • What type of bricks should I use?
  • Kiln Bricks, also referred to as Fire Bricks or Refractory Bricks, are made from ceramic refractory material that can withstand extremely high temperatures, such as those achieved in kiln firings. These bricks typically line the inside of a kiln (furnace, fireplace, etc.) and serve as great insulators, making heat loss minimal and energy use efficient. Kiln bricks are available in different shapes and sizes, and come in either soft or hard material. 

 

  • What are the types of fire pits?
  • fire pit or a fire hole can vary from a pit dug in the ground to an elaborate gas burning structure of stone, brick, and metal. The common feature of fire pits is that they are designed to contain fire and prevent it from spreading. Fire pits come in numerous alterations but they can generally be grouped into four categories depending on the kind of fuel each pit uses. There are gel fuel, wood burning, propane, and natural gas fire pits. 

 

  • How far do recreational fires have to be from a building/structure?
  • Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material. Conditions that could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet (7620 mm) of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.

 

  • What additional safety measures are needed to operate a fire pit?
  • Open burning, bonfires, recreational fires and use of portable outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. Keep an approved fire extinguisher, dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose or water truck nearby if it becomes necessary to put the fire out.

 

  • What if I wanted to use a portable outdoor fireplace?
  • You should use a portable outdoor fireplace in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. Do not operate a potable fireplace within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material.

 

ADDITIONAL FIRE PIT SAFETY ADVICE

  • Take into account the prevailing wind direction before building your fire pit and place it in a place that will reduce the impact of smoke on your home as well as your neighbor’s home.
  • Place your fire pit away from high traffic areas and walkways.
  • Space surrounding chairs or benches in such a way that guests do not have to squeeze past the fire pit to reach these.
  • Portable fire pits are available in a variety of styles and materials. Ensure that the portable pit is well built and provides a safe, stable base for a fire. If your fire pit is made from materials, such as clay or metal, be aware that they can get very hot during operation and retain heat long after the flames have gone out so be careful!
  • With in-ground fire pits – even when not in use – there is the possibility of someone accidentally falling in! To reduce this risk use a lid when the pit is unlit. When in use, be extra vigilant!
  • Use a poker, log grabber or shovel when rearranging burning logs.
  • Bigger is not always better! This is a common mistake people make when size is not restricted by regulations. A fire pit should be large enough for your guests to gather around but still be able to maintain a conversation and feel the warmth from the flames. If a fire pit is too big it can become difficult to rearrange or add logs without compromising your safety! Also, finding a safety screen to fit the pit can become an issue and roasting marshmallows can become a lot harder – if not impossible – especially for children.
  • Loose fitting clothes, especially sleeves, are a hazard when tending the fire. Keep them as well as your hair out of the way of the flames!
  • Do not put more wood into the fire than you are likely to burn. Letting the fire burn down completely will make it easier to fully extinguish. Be aware that embers can remain a fire hazard for days if not thoroughly dealt with, so double check before leaving the fire pit that there is no residual heat. Do not bury or cover the embers with dirt as they may continue to smolder and eventually reignite under certain conditions. Please note that using water to douse the flames may damage fire pits if they are made from materials such as metal or clay. Always replace the screen of the fire pit – even when you think the fire is completely out – just to be on the safe side. Lastly, when removing the ashes from the pit use a metal bucket or container and dispose them safely!!
  • Do not use porous rocks, river rocks or wet rocks in your fire pit. If exposed to intense heat, pressure can build up within the rock due to the expanding water molecules, causing the rock to explode.
  • Be aware that alcohol consumption and fire pits accidents go hand in hand. Adults that have over indulged in alcohol may require as much supervision as the kids around a fire pit.

 

SUGGESTED ADVICE FOR CHILD SAFETY

  • Establish a 3 foot “ kid-free zone” around your fire pit.
  • Children should not be allowed to run, roughhouse, play games or do any other fast-moving activities around the fire pit. Set up a play area away from the fire pit where they can have fun.
  • When the kids do join you at the fire pit make sure there is plenty of seating for them. Do not allow them to wander around! They should be encouraged to enjoy the benefits of the fire pit in a relaxed and calm manner.
  • Never leave children unsupervised! There should be a responsible adult present at all times keeping a close eye on them if you have a fire pit going.
  • Closely supervise children while they toast marshmallows. Younger ones are best sat on your lap and secured between your knees. Remember that marshmallows can cause burns if they get too hot and flaming marshmallows can be a fire hazard.
  • Do not leave matches or lighters in a place where children may get hold of them!
  • Do not allow children to play with the fire or logs!
  • If you are still worried about the children being able to get too close to the fire, install a child safety fence or barrier around the fire pit. It need not interfere with your enjoyment of the fire pit as you only need to place it far enough away and just high enough to prevent children from having direct contact with the pit.