Fire pits—whether they are portable or permanent—can provide warmth, ambiance, and style to outdoor gatherings. Since summertime is often associated with fire pit get-togethers, owners should be careful about the potential dangers if they fail to perform maintenance and take proper precautions.
Routine basic upkeep of outdoor fire pits is required just like an indoor fireplace would need. If you do not use your fire pit year round, thoroughly clean it at the beginning of each heavy-use season and remove excess ash buildup from previous use. During winter and spring months when fire pits are not used as often, birds or rodents can use them as nesting sites. It is important to check fire pits for any signs of animal activity and completely clear them before the first use of the season. Homes.com recommends also checking for other signs of wear before using fire pits such as crumbling masonry in permanent fire pits or worn pilot lights in gas-powered fire pits.
General Safety Instructions
The following are tips for safety in backyard fire pits including recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Selecting a Wood to Use as Fuel
Though it may seem like a simple concept, choosing the fuel source for your fire pit is one of the most important safety factors. Never burn treated wood or any garbage in your fire pit since burning chemicals from pressure-treated lumber and plastic releases toxic fumes. It is recommended to use a locally-sourced firewood because it prevents the spread of invasive species. Also, dry wood (wood with a lower moisture level compared to softwood) is preferable because it produces less “pops”, which can send sparks flying.
To read more about outdoor fire safety, read our previous blog on the principles of campfire safety.Tagged FireSafety, SummerSafety