5 Fire Pit Safety Tips from A Former Wildland Firefighter


Fire pits are a fantastic addition to any homestead or rural backyard. They are attractive, inexpensive to use and help to extend the use of your yard through the fall and winter. But when you use a fire pit you are literally playing with fire! Careless misuse could not only set your own house ablaze, but also could spark a grass fire and endanger others nearby.

For nearly a decade I lived in southern Idaho, an area of the state prone to large wildfires. During my time there I trained and worked as a volunteer firefighter and helped battle numerous wildfires. I have seen firsthand the destruction an errant spark from a fire pit can cause, and so I want to share these important fire pit safety precautions:

Positioning Your Fire Pit

Whether you are using a portable fire pit or planning to install a permanent one, positioning is key to safety:

• Make sure the fire pit is, at minimum, 10 feet away from any structure or neighboring yard—25 feet is preferable.
• Do not position a fire pit under a covered porch or low hanging tree branches.
• Always place a fire pit on a non-flammable surface, such as patio blocks or concrete.
• Do not put a fire pit on a wooden deck or directly on grass.

Preparing Your Fire Pit

• Clear all flammable materials away from your fire pit before using it. Five feet is a good distance. This “break” in vegetation will help prevent an escaped fire from spreading.
• Piling dirt or rocks around the pit will also help prevent any fire on the ground from escaping.
• The fire pit should be at least 6 inches deep at the center and 2 feet across, to help keep the embers and flames contained.

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