It may be fall outside and we may have already had a winter storm roll through, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy your backyard a bit more. Before you start thinking about snow forts and backyard rinks, why not snuggle up around your fire pit to stave off Calgary’s autumn chill?

Unfortunately, the sad and shocking reality is that fire pits are the cause of nearly 6,000 grill fires a year. So before you go lighting that first fall fire, here are a few things you should know to protect your home from catching fire.

Never place a fire pit directly on a wooden deck.

Make sure there is a fire pad to protect the wood using bricks or stone slabs. The fire pad must extend at least 2 feet beyond the perimeter of the fire pit. If you are using a free-standing fire pit or ring, also make sure it has sturdy legs.

Never use a fire pit under a covered deck, roof overhang or trees.

This is a poses a huge threat. While you may love that shady location, it’s safest to use your pit under an open sky. Make sure to clear the area 3 feet around your selected location of debris including leaves, pine cones and twigs.

Choose a nonflammable, level surface on which to place your fire pit or fire ring.

Free-standing fire pits and rings can be used safely on cement or tile patios and decks. Keep the fire 10-20 feet away from fences, buildings, trees and other flammable debris.

Never use lighter fluid, gasoline or alcohol to ignite your fire.

Instead, use tender or newspaper. You should also never burn plastic, painted and treated wood or rubber. I know it’s tempting to just toss stuff into the flame, but all of those things will make the air around you dangerous.

Never dispose of the ashes for at least 24 hours after the fire.

You may not be able to see it, but the ashes may still be smouldering and can start a fire quickly. If a fire does spark, use a water hose, bucket of cold water or an AB fire extinguisher to put it out.

It may surprise you to know that most cities have ordinances that regulate when you can use a fire pit. It’s really important that you check with your local office to see what rules are in place.

The most common fire pit ordinances regulate:

  • Size of the fire pit
  • Distance from fire to structures
  • Use of fires outdoors during periods of drought or extreme heat
  • Whether proper extinguishing is available

There are lots of ways to enjoy your backyard this fall, and a cozy fire is definitely at the top of my list. Just make sure you are “getting fired up” safely.

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