Wood Burning Fire Pit Safety Tips

Looking to make the outdoor season last a bit longer this fall and autumn?

Buying and installing a fire pit in your backyard can do just that.

Imagine sitting beside a fire on a cool autumn evening with your friends and family. A fire pit provides not only heat and light but, a warm and inviting ambience as well.

Family Outdoors Gathered Around a Firepit
Yes, this could be you – with some friends and family enjoying the cooler weather outdoors with some comfy seating and a center fire pit.

Would you be sitting outdoors otherwise? Probably not. The cooler weather – and shorter days – might make you turn indoors for a more comfortable and warm environment.

A fire pit can make any gathering a warm – literally – and inviting place to sit and enjoy each others company.

This all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it! Indeed!

But, ‘Hold the Fire’ for just a few minutes…

Because you are literally dealing with fire, before you jump into buying a new fire pit, you should read these safety tips on the proper ways to install, use and have a fire in a wood burning fire pit.

If you follow these simple safety tips, you will be sure to get the most out of your fire pit – and your backyard – in a safe and secure manner.

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Fire Pit Safety

Now that you know that you want a fire pit, here are some safety tips to consider before buying and installing a fire pit in your backyard or patio.

While there are other issues to consider (post coming soon), safety is a key concern when considering adding a fire pit to your outdoor decor. After all, we are talking about open fire.

Here are some of the main issues you need to consider.

Follow Local Laws

First and foremost, you MUST follow the fire regulations of your locality.

Ensure that you are allowed to have a fire pit in your yard. You don’t want to spend the time and money buying and installing a fire pit only to be either fined or told that it is not allowed.

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Fireproof Base

The proper installation of a fire pit is not difficult as it usually only involves taking it out of the box and placing it where you wish.

The more important part of the installation of a firepit is the base.

A fire pit must be installed on a fireproof surface. That means it should be on a concrete patio, patio stones, pavers, gravel, sand, or even metal or steel.

A wood burning fire pit CANNOT be installed and used on a wood deck. (I think the reasons are obvious.)

Remember, that even if you do not have a stone or concrete patio, you can simply buy a few patio stones and install them as a base for your firepit in your yard.

You could also create a base with gravel. Just be sure to make it large enough to cover the full base of the fire pit – plus a foot or two.

This steel copper finish wood burning fire pit has been installed on 4 large patio stones on a grass lawn – to ensure a safe installation even though it is close to the grass. In this placement, be sure you keep some water or fire extinguisher close by in case any embers or sparks fly onto the grass – especially in drier seasons.

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Note also that you still should not install a firepit base of concrete or steel on top of a wooden deck. Keep your fire pit away from your wooden deck – period.

Open Bowl Cast Iron Wood Burning Fire Pit on Gravel and Natural Stones
Another example of a safe installation of a wood burning fire pit. The gravel surround is highlighted with a few large natural stones – the perfect place for the open fire pit. Not only is it safe and secure, paired with a casual, comfortable and classic Adirondack chair, it looks great too.

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Safe Distances

Ensure that the distance from flammable objects is sufficient.

Your fire pit should not be under trees, too close to trees or shrubs, outdoor furniture, fences, and even your neighbors property. Your neighbors will not be happy with you if you set their tree or fence on fire.

Also remember to keep humans a safe distance from the fire and fire pit.

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Open Fire Pit or Lidded Fire Pit

Based on your bylaws or local laws, you may be required to have a fire pit with a mesh lid. If so, be sure you buy a fire pit with a mesh cover – and use it.

If not, you can opt for an open fire pit without a mesh cover.

Fire Pits with Wire Mesh Covers

This beautiful crossweave patterned round metal fire pit has a wire mesh lid which helps to prevent any embers or sparks from escaping – keeping you and your surroundings safer.

This larger sized fire pit has a diameter of 36 inches around which means that you can build a really nice sized fire (for those of you who like ‘big’ fires).

Sunnydaze Crossweave Round Fire Pit with Mesh Cover with Fire Burning

Save 10% OFF this fire pit right now! Use code: FIRE10

Another safety feature of the mesh cover is that it prevents you from putting too much wood into the firepit. Too much wood in your fire pit can be dangerous.

If the wood is stacked too high in the fire pit, the fire can get out of control. If you have so much wood that it is hanging outside of the fire pit, it can burn any surroundings close to the firepit which are flammable.

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Open Fire Pits

The other option is a firepit without a lid, an open fire pit – which creates a completely open fire.

For some, an open fire pit is more desirable as it allows for a larger fire – depending on the size of your fire pit. It also allows you to see the fire completely – another desirable feature for many.

Sunnydaze Rusted Metal Round Open Fire Pit with Fire

While it is always safer to have a mesh lid cover – as it prevents live embers and sparks from escaping – some people prefer to see the open fire. Just be sure you follow the rules of your municipality and general fire safety rules if you opt for an open fire pit – and especially remember to keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher handy in case your open fire gets out of control.

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Burn the Proper Amount of Wood

Do not overfill your fire pit. An over filled fire pit can lead to an out of control fire.

Only use enough wood to fill your fire pit base and do not have any wood hanging out off the edges – as in this example – very bad example of fire pit safety – or should I say fire pit non-safety.

I am showing you this dangerously loaded fire pit to tell you that this is not safe. Do NOT overfill your firepit. Keep all of the wood inside the fire pit. Do NOT allow it to hang out over the edges of the fire pit.

This fire may be mesmerizing but, the overloading of the firepit is hazardous and potentially dangerous to the surroundings.

Fire in Fire Pit which is Dangerously Large with Do Not Do Red Circle
This fire pit is well over filled – to the point of being dangerous. Do NOT do this.

Here is an example of an appropriate amount of wood to put into a fire pit.

Even though there is a lot of wood in the fire pit, it is still contained within the limits of the fire bowl itself. The wood goes close to the edges but, is not hanging over them.

Sunnydaze Small Cast Iron Fire Pit Bowl with Stand
Even though this fire pit is on the smaller side, it can contain plenty of wood to have a nice sized fire while still remaining safely within the limits of the fire pit bowl size.

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Fire Control

As just mentioned, fire control and maintenance is very important. ALWAYS be sure that you have a water source nearby (pond, creek, river, lake or even pool will do) or at least one bucket of water near the fire pit in case of an accident where the fire gets out of control.

You may want to put out an ember which has escaped onto your grass, or onto another flammable surface. Or, you may need to pour some water on a portion of the fire to contain it if it gets too big.

Remember that you can also have a fire extinguisher handy – nothing wrong with that safety precaution either.

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Put the Fire Out

ALWAYS put out the fire completely before you leave the fire pit area. And when we say completely, we mean completely.

You should not see any embers burning whatsoever. Even a small ember, if it escapes, can turn into something much bigger very quickly.

Remember that part of Smokey the Bear’s message of, “ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT WILDFIRES” included making sure your fire is completely out before you leave it.

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Obey Fire Bans

DO NOT have any wood burning fire in your fire pit if there is a fire ban in your area.

A fire ban will be instituted because of the lack of rain or dryness in your area. When conditions get so dry, it leaves the potential for easy wildfire starts and rapid fire spread in both forests and homes. And it can happen with one small ember or spark.

Do not take any chances if there is a fire ban in place.

Let’s Get Outside and Have a Fire

Having said all of this, you may now be weary of installing a fire pit in your backyard, as the tips listed may sound strict.

However, they really are quite easy to follow. And if you do, you, your family and friends can enjoy your wood burning fire pit fires and gatherings long into this cooler autumn season.

Family Gathered Around a Firepit
Gather your family and friends around a fire pit and enjoy more time outdoors than ever before!

Shop for your new Wood Burning Fire Pit now!

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More Outdoor Safe Wood Burning Fire Options

Wood Burning Chimineas and Fireplaces

If you like the look, feel and smell of a wood burning fire but want something other than a fire pit, you may want to consider a chiminea.

Chimineas are fire burning structures which resemble a chimney – and perhaps, where they got their name. As such, chimineas tend to be taller and narrower than wood burning fire pits.

You get all of the benefits of a wood burning fire pit while most often taking up less space on your patio or backyard.

Sunnydaze 6 Foot Wood Burning Chiminea in Aged Copper Finish
This modern copper finish chiminea is great for having outdoor fires. It also has a beautiful design making it the focal point of any outdoor decor for both the spectacle of the fire and the beauty and uniqueness of the design.

If you opt for a wood burning chiminea to install in your backyard decor, be sure to follow all of the above rules in order to enjoy your backyard bonfires safely and securely.

Protect Your Fire Pit

Chiminea Custom Protective Cover in Blue on Patio
This chiminea cover has been customized with waterproof fabric in a beautiful bright blue color – matching the outdoor furniture and decor.

Don’t forget to cover your fire pit when not in use. A waterproof cover will protect your fire pit from water and rain damage as well as other weather elements like the sun’s UV rays, hail and even snow.

Be sure your fire pit has cooled down sufficiently before adding the cover.

Add a quality custom sized fire pit cover to ensure you get the right fit – making the life of your fire pit – and hence, your enjoyment of it – that much longer.

Whatever the size and shape of your fire pit, check here to find the right one to fit yours snug and securely.

Shop Custom Fire Pit Covers here!

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