Firepits are really trendy right now but, are you aware of the firepit safety regulations? Firepit safety starts with selecting the right site. Make sure the ground is level, especially when using a portable firepit. Keep fires located at least 3-6 metres away from surrounding plants, branches, as well as from nearby buildings and structures, including your home. Check with your local council to make sure you observe the distance required by law; this can vary from council to council.
Outside of Fire Danger Periods, burning off restrictions will differ depending on your local municipality. Check with your local council for more information on what you can and can't do.
Never operate your firepit beneath a building overhang or in a partially enclosed space. Use special caution related to overhanging trees, which can easily ignite from flying wood fire sparks. In fire prone areas, surround your firepit with non-combustible materials, like crushed stone, brick, or sand.
In wood stoked firepits, safety begins with fuel. Only burn wood that’s been seasoned at least 6 months. Avoid using construction materials, such as plywood or composite woods, which can release toxic fumes when burned. Softwoods, like white cypress and pine, tend to produce more crackles and sparks than seasoned hardwoods, like blackbutt and ironbark. For wood burning firepits, cut logs so their length is less than three-quarters the diameter of the pit. Never use lighter fluid or gasoline to start a fire in a firepit.
If your firepit has a screen, use it whenever you’re burning. It’s also a good idea to have a bucket of sand or garden hose handy to deal with wayward sparks from wood fires. Attach a hose multi-pattern nozzle to the hose, setting it to “spray.” A shower-type spray douses a flare up, while a direct stream of water can spread sparks. Keep fire gloves nearby to handle hot parts of the firepit safely.
Position chairs so people can rise and move about seats without risking tumbling into the fire. Built-in seating prevents seats from being drawn too close to the flames; so do heavier chairs. Keep an eye on children whenever a firepit is being used. Don’t allow them to get too close to the blaze. Teach kids about fire safety and practice with them.
Invest in a fire blanket to help extinguish sparks, the fire, and, if necessary, anyone who might catch fire. Also have a fully charged, dry-chemical fire extinguisher on hand. Make sure you understand how to use the fire extinguisher should the need to extinguish the fire arise. On gas firepits, turn off the gas before attempting to extinguish a fire. Avoid lighting a fire in windy conditions.
When you’re done enjoying your fire for the evening, douse it properly. Most manufactured firepits offer specific instructions for extinguishing a fire. Review the instructions before it’s time to put out your fire. Water can crack ceramic firepits and some metal ones.
Can you have a firepit at your place?
Each local council area has differing laws but state fire authorities are a good place to start:
- New South Wales Fire and Rescue’s BBQ and outdoor eateries
- Country Fire Authority Victoria‘s Warnings and restrictions
- Tasmania Fire Service’s Using fire outdoors
- Western Australia Department of Water and Environment’s Burnwise
- Northern Territory Fire and Rescue’s Fire safety
- South Australia Environment Protection Authority’s Burning in the open
- Rural Fire Service Queensland’s Using fire outdoors