When it comes to the natural inclination to add a little heat and light to your patio or backyard this summer, there’s much more to think about than just the romance of sitting by a crackling flame. Mark Regan, fire marshal at North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, explains approved fire pits and fire safety precautions every homeowner should take.
What kinds of fire pits are approved?
Properly screened LPG or LNG (natural gas) portable outdoor fireplaces or barbecue grills with a total area of three feet or less in diameter and two feet or less in height are approved. Wood-burning fireplaces or chimneys are also approved, but have different restrictions on placement.
Where can I use a fire pit?
On patios, only natural gas fire pits are approved. Approved wood-burning fire pits must be 25 feet away from any structure or combustible material.
What additional restrictions apply?
A permit must be obtained from your local fire protection district to have a fire pit, which will be inspected before use. On the day you burn, you should call the fire department alerting them to your plans. Wood-burning fire pits are generally restricted June through September, due to high fire danger. Gas fire pits can be restricted day-to-day, depending on fire danger. Information can be found at weather.gov.
Why should people follow these rules?
A safe fire pit prevents fire danger and damage to homes, forest, and property; and having permits alerts the fire department that your fire is regulated. If someone down the street sees the fire and makes a call, dispatch can then verify that it isn’t a danger by calling you, without sending out a team to investigate, saving valuable resources.
What are some basic safety precautions?
Have “defensible space,” meaning that all materials likely to burn have been cleared from your yard. Make sure your home has working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and have an escape plan in place, should you need to evacuate quickly.