Many homeowners dream of spend a beautiful chilly evening around a fire in their backyard. Fire pits are a wonderful and elegant addition to any hardscape project. But is a permit needed to build a fire pit? How can you even build one?
Let’s discuss the process of building and properly using a fire pit. We will start discussing the need for permits and legislation around it, and then talk about the safety measures that need to be taken when using it.
Although, a quick disclaimer is necessary. As fun and simple as it can be to build a fire pit as a DIY project, the best course of action is to hire professionals in the hardscape business to help you. Always.
But we will talk more about that later. For now, let’s get on with the discussion.
Permit to Build a Fire Pit
So, the answer to the “Do I need a permit to build a fire pit?” is: maybe. Depending on your area.
Counties, cities and even neighborhoods have autonomy to determine their own regulations when it comes to building a fire pit. The only way you can make sure is to contact the fire department or local authority in your region.
The restrictions usually involve maintaining a safe distance from structures, trees and fences, and what your local authorities considers to be a recreational fire.
The recommended safe distance can vary from place to place, but it usually ranges between 20 and 30 feet.
As for a recreational fire, you have some guidelines to follow.
- First, you should use regular fire pit fuel, like firewood and tinder. Garbage and other waste materials are strictly forbidden.
- It must be used exclusively outside and in the open.
- It cannot be used to work related issues.
Aside from those two factors, it is also very common for local authorities to demand the placement of an easily accessible fire extinguisher next to the fire pit.
However, at the end of the day, you’ll have to follow the guidelines in your area, so there might be more rules to follow.
Permits to Build a Fire Pit in Florida
On Florida, there aren’t many restrictions when it comes to using fire pits. There is a list of materials that are forbidden from burning and, although they are materials you wouldn’t want to burn in your fire pit anyway, it is good to know them:
- Biological waste
- Materials with asbestos
- Used oil
- Roofing material
- Hazardous waste
- Devices with mercury
- Residual oil
- Treated wood
- Rubber material
The main authority in the matter is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In their open burning regulations, there is the Recreational Open Burning section that states the following:
“Open burning of vegetative debris and untreated wood in campfire, ceremonial bonfire, outdoor fireplace, or other contained outdoor heating or cooking device, or on cold days for warming of outdoor workers is allowed. All fires must be attended.”
So, by the state of Florida, fire pits are permitted, as long as they are not burning any of the forbidden materials. Still, it is better to contact your local authorities, as counties and cities might have specific regulations.
Rules to Build a Fire Pit
There are some important aspects you have to pay attention when building a fire pit.
Planning is everything. Be absolutely of what you want before you start doing it. An ideal measurement usually ranges from 35 to 45 inches in diameter.
As for the height, if you want something small where you can rest your feet, for example, it should at most 14 inches tall. On the other hand, if you want a taller fire place where you can maybe sit on the edge, you can up this value to 20 inches.
Under no circumstances you should use non-porous materials to build your fire pit. These materials have a risk of trapping the steam, causing damage to the fire pit and even having a risk of exploding.
A fire ring is highly recommended when building a fire pit. They will protect your fire pit from direct contact with fire, which will prevent the dehydration and crumbling of it.
Safety Guidelines When Using a Fire Pit
- Never leave the fire unattended. Even if it looks safe, fire is treacherous, and it can get out of control real fast.
- Stick to firewood and timber. Never use any kind of fire accelerants, like gasoline or lighter fluid. Aside from being dangerous, they release toxic fumes that can cause severe health damage.
- Remove the ashes of the previous fire before starting a new one. This will keep things clean and help the fire to start faster.
- Be mindful of kids and pets near the fire pit. They can move at a moment’s notice and cause and accident.
- The size of the firewood matters. Never let it pass the edge of the fire pit.
- Stop fueling the fire about an hour before you plan to move back inside. By that time, it should be cool enough and easier to douse off.
Hire Professional Help
Building a fire pit is easy enough, our guide can help you with that. If you follow it and our safety tips in this article, you’re good to go.
But before anything, you need to contact your local authorities to know the legislation in your area regarding recreational fires and open burnings. Their word is final, and you should follow all their guidelines to get a permit, if needed.
Another thing you can do is to hire professionals to help you with the building of your fire pit. As fun as it is as a DIY project, working with professionals ensures you get the best possible final product with the highest safety levels.
We here at S&S Pavers have made countless fire pit installation over our 12 years of experience, so we know the importance of a job well done.
If you happen to be around our area of activity, the Sarasota and Manatee counties, in Florida, why not give us a call to help you?