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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.
What does your dream backyard look like? Maybe it has a swimming pool, a hot tub, or a gazebo. For many people, the perfect centerpiece for entertaining is a cozy fire pit that family and friends can gather around to swap stories and create lasting memories.
Before you can get the installation of your fire pit rolling, you’ll need to contact your HOA or local municipality to determine how far your fire pit needs to be from your home. It’s crucial to abide by the rules for your area to avoid being fined and protect the dwellings of your neighbors and yourself.
General Fire Pit Safety
How far should a fire pit be from a house? There are varying distances for how far a fire pit should be from your house, depending on the source of information, which is why it’s essential that you put in the time to check the specific laws in your area. Expect that your fire pit will need to be roughly 10 to 20 feet from your home and any other structures such as a garage or garden shed.
Besides keeping the fire pit a safe distance from residential dwellings and other structures, you must also be mindful of awnings, overhanging branches, or nearby foliage that could potentially spark and catch fire. The safest way to create a fire pit in your yard is to center it so that there is at least 1o to 20 feet of clearance on all sides.
If your yard is simply not large enough to accommodate the distance, you’re going to have to turn to an alternative design for landscaping.
Guidelines For Burning Wood in Your Fire Pit
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, there are several other considerations to make when creating a wood burning fire pit in your backyard. Even if you’ve placed your fire pit a safe distance from your house, you’re still going to breathe in the fumes and smoke that it produces. Clean burning benefits your health and the environment.
1. Be careful what you burn
What you burn makes a huge impact on your health and the environment. It’s best to burn dry, seasoned wood because it burns cleaner and hotter. Always avoid burning plastic, garbage, yard waste, or green wood, which can create excess smoke and potentially be toxic.
2. Store your wood properly
When you stack your firewood for storage, cover it to protect from rain and moisture, but not so tightly that you restrict airflow. Proper airflow is critical to helping the wood dry properly so it can burn cleanly.
3. Pay attention to environmental alerts
While your enjoyment of a backyard fire pit is important, it’s more critical that you respect the local environment by paying attention to alert notifications in your region. If there is an air quality alert, avoid burning on those days, so you don’t contribute to the pollution further.
The same goes for a fire ban or brush fire warning. If you’re living in a zone that’s going through a dry spell, don’t take the risk of starting a fire in your yard that could get out of control.
Fire Prevention Safety Tips
Once you have established a safe location for your bonfire or fire pit, it’s time to think about fire safety during the evenings when you’ve already got a fire burning. By ensuring your fire pit is a safe distance from your house, other structures, and any foliage, you’re already in an excellent position for maintaining control. But having a plan in place in case the wind picks up is always a smart idea.
1. Keep it contained
The best way to safely contain your fire will depend on what style of fire pit you invest in. Above ground fire pits that are raised are often already self-contained to some degree. If you’re creating a campfire at ground level, consider digging down a few inches to create a barrier.
For fire pits on a grassy area and not on a patio, ensure the fire pit is raised, covered, or lined with some sort of fire ring to prevent flames from jumping to the grass. The most basic way to create this barrier is with a ring of stones surrounding the pit.
2. Examine wind direction
Before you light your fire on any given day, take some time to consider the direction the wind is blowing. Building a fire downwind when there are trees or foliage that way can cause the flames being blown toward something flammable. The best place to set up a fire pit is somewhere that is naturally shielded from the wind.
3. Have immediate access to water
By taking proper precautions when installing and preparing your fire pit, you’ll be able to enjoy it safely. However, if it ever gets out of control, it’s smart to keep a water source on hand for emergencies. If you have a garden hose in the vicinity, that’s ideal; otherwise, keep a bucket of water next to the seating area surrounding the fire pit when it's in use.
Stay Alert, Stay Safe
When planning your backyard’s layout, it’s critical to think ahead to the safety aspects of including a fire pit. They can be tons of fun and create an inviting, entertaining space that friends and family will love, but you have to put in the work to make it safe first.
How far should a fire be from a house? At a minimum, it will need to be 10 feet away from your house and any foliage or awnings, but it could be more depending on where you live. Be intentional about creating a hazard-free zone for hosting the fire pit and before you light it, always take time to think about environmental factors like air quality and wind direction.With some simple precautions, it’s possible to have lots of fun with a backyard fire pit that is a safe distance from your home.