Use Caution with Outdoor Home Fires

To promote the public health, safety, and welfare of its citizens the CFD wants to remind residents to take care when using portable or fixed outdoor fireplaces and fire pits.   Careful practices help to limit air pollution and fire hazards.

A portable or fixed outdoor fireplace includes structures constructed of steel, concrete, clay or other noncombustible materials, and it usually has a small hearth opening in the front and a short chimney opening at the top.  Examples of these include a chimenea and a brick and mortar outdoor fireplace.  A fire pit is a construct where the fuel being burned is not contained in fireplace-type structure and may be set in the ground or it may be a freestanding metal structure.    (Collierville Fire Code states that the fire pit is to be no larger than three feet in diameter and no higher than two feet.) 

For the sake of safety there are restrictions on the placement of both types of fire structures.  

  • A portable or fixed outdoor fireplace should not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible materials whereas a fire pit should be 25 feet from a structure or combustible materials.
  • Any outdoor home fire must be in the constant attendance of an adult (at least 18 years or older) until the fire is extinguished.
  • Fire extinguishing equipment such as a portable fire extinguisher (with a minimum of a 4A rating for wood), containers of dirt or sand, a water barrel, or a garden hose must be on hand for immediate use if needed.
  • Fires should only be created when the atmospheric conditions are favorable.   Do not burn when there are drought conditions or any declared burn bans.  Furthermore, avoid lighting fires when there are strong winds. Embers from fires can be carried into your lawn or neighboring yards. 
  • Only use clean wood, wood pellets made from clean wood, or fuels specified by the manufacturer’s instruction in the fireplace or fire pit. Do not burn trash, trees, limbs, grass clippings, leaves, or any paper products. 
  • At some point there will be ashes that will need to be removed.  Please be aware that small bits of hot coals or embers are almost always mixed and buried in fireplace or fire pit ash.  These are a hidden danger and must be handled carefully. First, select an appropriate ash holder or pail for ash removal.  It should be made of sheet metal, contain legs to keep the container off of the surface it is placed, have a large wire handle, and most importantly, consist of a tight-fitting lid. Place the container on a non-combustible surface such as stone, concrete, or brick and keep it away from the house or any other structure.  If ashes are not disposed of correctly, they could become active again.  All that is needed to create a fire is an inadequate container (open pail, cardboard box, paper bag, etc.) and a strong breeze.  The wind could stir up the ashes, increase their temperature, and reactivate a fire.  Depending on the container’s placement, the ashes could then catch a porch, a wood deck, or even a house on fire.  

Nothing beats the warmth and conviviality of an outdoor fire especially when it is being enjoyed safely!  

Collierville Fire Department:
 1251 Peterson Lake Road, Collierville, TN 38017 | (901) 457-2400 | Emergency: 9-1-1

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