What you need to know for a backyard fire pit

6 minute read Published on Aug 27, 2021 | Last updated Sep 7, 2021 by BrokerLink Communications

What you need to know for a backyard fire pit

Looking for that camping feeling without leaving the comfort of your home? Then you might consider a fire pit for your yard! These fun and functional backyard elements can serve as areas to host backyard cookouts and late night hangouts with a dazzling display of flames.

Before you run to the store or start building your fire pit, you should familiarize yourself with local regulations, construction requirements and potential hazards. Let us help break down what you should know before you set up your dream outdoor space.

Backyard fire pit: an overview

A backyard fire pit is a dedicated area for maintaining a fire. Sounds simple enough, right? Many people believe that a fire pit is an actual pit in the ground because of its name. In most cases, it's a raised structure designed to aid airflow and reduce the likelihood of flooding or a fire spreading. Fire pits can be round, square, oblong, or another shape, and are made from various materials, including stone, concrete, metal, or even tile.

Different types of fire pits for your backyard

Did you know that there are two classifications of fire pits?

Permanent fire pits

You can probably tell by the name – this type of fire pit is not meant to be moved anytime soon or possibly ever! It is fixed in your backyard. You can go fully custom and have a landscape professional or contractor design and build it.

Portable fire pits

Portable fire pits offer a lot of different options. Fire bowls are typically made of copper, steel or cast iron.

Additionally, there are two heat source materials to choose from, similar to what we use for fireplaces:

Wood-fired pits

Wood-burning is typically on the lower end in terms of cost and is easier to install. This is because pre-made versions can be purchased from a wide selection of retailers and installed on your own. Since you need to source and store wood to make it work, it has a more realistic crackle and pleasant smell of smoke but it can also sting your eyes.

Gas fire pits

From the name itself, it is a gas maintained by a company and you just need to turn it on for instant heat with no maintenance. While gas can be more expensive to install and will require a professional, it may be the better option because of the ambiance, location, or ease it provides.

Let’s check out the more common types of fire pits:

Standard fire pit

This lightweight propane fire pit is easy to set up, simple to use and can go with you whenever you need a little warmth.

Wood burning fire pits

There are multiple types of these wood-burning fires that can be up set in a controlled space. Generally, the best option for wood burning fire pits is a steel version that keeps the fire raised off the ground, as these are the safest and easiest to maintain.

Fire bowls

Best suited for camping and patios, fire bowls are small and compact, and run on an external propane or gas tank. Fire bowls are notable for their portability and are easy to bring around with you wherever you need or want fire. Their portability, alongside running on gas, makes them the height of convenience when it comes to backyard flames.

Fire tables

The largest of the options, fire tables are essentially fire bowls built into a small social dining table. This makes them a great social gathering point for your outdoor space, but they definitely aren't meant to be moved or carried with you on camping trips.

Where should your fire pit be located?

The location of a backyard fire pit is an important decision. You’ll want to choose a spot in your backyard that's a safe distance from your home. Fire safety codes can vary, but it’s recommended that your house, fence, trees, or shrubs are three to six metres away from any flammable structure.

If you choose to locate a fire pit under a gazebo or trees, make sure that the overhang is high above the fire pit and there's good airflow, not only for the potential risk of catching the structure on fire but also so that smoke doesn't hang in the air around you while you are trying to enjoy your evening.

Your fire pit should be on a level, non-flammable surface so that any embers that fly off avoid land on leaf litter, dry grass, or mulch. It should also be located near a water source so that you can quickly and easily turn on a hose if any errant embers do escape!

In addition, plan to install your fire pit on a patch of level ground in an open area of the yard that’s at least five metres from other residences and at least three metres from property lines and flammable structures, such as wooden sheds, bushes, and trees.

Backyard fire pit safety tips

A fire of any kind demands serious attention to safety. Here are some safety tips for you to consider if you want to use your fire pit.

Do

  • Check wind direction before lighting a fire.
  • Keep children and pets at least one metre away from the fire.
  • Build a fire pit following local bylaws.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of water nearby.
  • Know how to safely dispose of the ashes when you're done with the fire.

Avoid

  • Using flammable fluids (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) to light or relight fires.
  • Using softwoods like pine or cedar, because they can pop and throw sparks.
  • Wearing flammable clothing (like nylon) or any loose-fitting clothing.
  • Using flammable or non-porous, water-retaining building materials.
  • Positioning fire pits in hazard-prone zones with unfavorable winds.

Contact BrokerLink to make sure your house is covered!

Choosing the right fire pit for your yard depends on local bylaws and then personal preferences as to what kind of fire pit you want.

Research your local regulations, think about your location, choose your fire pit’s primary purpose, decide on the best materials, make sure that your home is adequately insured against fire and go for it!

Get in touch with one of our local, experienced insurance brokers. At BrokerLink, we help our customers with a wide array of needs, including vehicle, condo and business coverage too! We work with many well-respected insurance companies to find insurance solutions that fit your unique needs. We’ll answer all your questions, explain your policy options and make recommendations to ensure you have the right coverage to protect what matters to you.

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What you need to know for a backyard fire pit FAQs

Can fire pits explode and burn my house?

While this is unlikely, accidents do happened! Make sure your home insurance policy has the coverage you need in case of any incident or accident. Contact your insurance advisor about what is covered under your policy, and let them know any additional coverage you may need.

How far from the house should a fire pit be?

Check with your local municipality before setting up your fire pit. The fire pit should generally be at least three metres from any structure. In addition to keeping your fire pit away from structures, ensure you have done your due diligence by using the proper building materials and keeping a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of water nearby.

How do you stop a fire in a fire pit?

The easiest way to put out your fire in your fire pit is to pour water on the fire. Once the fire is out, stir the ashes to ensure all is cool and there are no left over burning embers. Keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of water nearby in case the fire gets out of hand.