Safety precautions to practice with recreational fires and portable fireplaces

Date: June 18, 2018

This time of year brings comfortably cool nights — perfect weather for taking the chill off and enjoying the company of friends and family around a roaring fire. The Centre Region Code Administration (CRCA) reminds you there are rules in place to help keep you, your guests, and your neighbors safe as you enjoy the fire. 

In the image above, the two on top are recreational fires, the two at the bottom are portable outdoor fireplaces.

Ferguson Township governs recreational fires in accordance with the Building Officials Code Administrators (BOCA) National Fire Prevention Code. A campfire is known as a recreational fire and is allowed in the Township. A campfire must be kept 25 feet or more from any structure or combustible material or conditions. 

In addition, keep the size of the fire smaller than three feet in diameter and two feet in height at all times. It is also recommended that you use a fire ring to help control the size and spread of a fire.  If your fire has the potential to grow larger than these dimensions, you are required to obtain an open burn permit from the CRCA prior to burning.

An outdoor fireplace or a structure confines the fire and uses a chimney to channel smoke and heat from the fire. Therefore it may be positioned closer to a structure such as a one- or two-family home. Please remember to be cautious and remain mindful of the potential for fire to travel. If you live in a multi-family dwelling, you are required to maintain a minimum 15-foot separation between the outdoor fireplace and any structure or combustible material.
Please note: Burning construction debris or garbage is not permitted, and you should only burn wood material.
In addition, be vigilant of weather conditions and refrain from burning in the presence of high winds or prolonged periods without rain.  Be considerate of your neighbors — mindful of the direction that your smoke and fumes are traveling and the impact they may have on your neighbors.  Rental property owners may have more restrictive policies than Township regulations and as such may further limit or prohibit renters from burning on the property.  It is recommended that renters consult their leases or with landlords for specific requirements.
In all cases, recreational fires must be constantly attended until completely extinguished.  In addition, a portable fire extinguisher with a 4-A rating (this is equal to a 10 lb ABC dry chemical extinguisher) or charged garden hose must be in close proximity of the fire and ready for use.
If you have any questions about recreational fires, please contact the Centre Region Code Administration at (814) 231-3056. Thank you for your cooperation. Stay safe.