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Coastal 101 | Home & Garden

Backyard Fire Pit

August 21, 2016

Fire Pits have Become a Hot Topic

Fire pits are all the rage. Whether you live in suburbia, out in the country, or the big city, spending time around a warm fire with friends and family on a crisp autumn night is one of life’s true pleasures.

What’s not to love? With today’s portable fire pits, adding one to your outdoor living space is easy. According to Guillermo Rivero, Yakima area master gardener and owner of EPiKLAR Landscape Design, homeowners all over the region are asking about adding fire pits to their back yard landscape designs.

Some builders have even started adding them as part of a home’s design, building gas fire pits on decks and patios, and wood burning models in other outdoor areas.

But what are the legal restrictions, and how can you ensure you follow fire pit etiquette? We’ve done our homework. He’s what we found.

Portable vs. Permanent

When it comes to outdoor fire pits, there are two basic options: permanent and portable. A permanent pit is usually built into the ground or on a deck. These can often become the focal point of a well-designed back yard. Portable models come in all shapes, sizes, and designs and allow you to move your fire pit around. You can even take it camping.

Wood vs. Gas

The type of fire pit you choose matters. If you go with a wood burning model, you’ll need to consider where your fire pit is located, smoke, and screening. Gas models are not as romantic, but they do allow you to enjoy your fire pit without many restrictions. If you’re okay to barbecue with a gas grill, you’re okay to use a gas-powered fire pit.

You’re Responsible for the Smoke (and Sparks)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a lot of legal jargon describing smoke and overall health. The gist of it is this: you’re responsible for any smoke and sparks from your fire pit. Always talk to your neighbors first, check wind conditions, obtain permits where necessary, and call your local fire department if you’re unsure about fire bans in your area.

Kelly Tyson, Public Information and Education Officer with Washington’s Valley Regional Fire Authority explained some of the most important wood-burning fire pit restrictions. Those include a 25-foot buffer between your fire pit and the nearest structure. Keep in mind that structures include sheds and your neighbor’s home.

“We also tell people to keep fire pits away from fences and out from under trees,” explained Tyson. “We’ve seen decks and fences catch fire and spread fast.”

What are the Rules?

We all love a good bon fire, but it’s important to clarify that there is a big difference between those larger-than-life ceremonial fires and a recreational fire. Ceremonial fires require special permits for obvious reasons. Fire pits fall into the recreational fire category, with a handful of legal requirements.

Fire pits need to be:
  • Metal or concrete
  • Smaller than 3-feet in diameter (most portable models comply)
  • At least 25-feet from any structures
  • At least 20-feet from any overhanging branches (that includes vertical distance)
  • Supervised by an adult at all times (seems logical)
  • Extinguished if winds exceed 15 miles per hour (use your best judgment)
  • Plus, your fire cannot get more than 2-feet high. Some areas even require that you cover your fire pit with a         12-gauge wire mesh screen.

Ensuring You Have Insurance

Even the most vigilant person can get caught off guard by a spark. If your home or your neighbor’s home catches fire, your homeowner’s insurance might not cover the damages. For those living in the country, your homeowner’s policy might not protect you if a spark ignites a wildfire. That’s because some insurance policies require that you disclose your fire pit first.

To be safe, check with your insurance agent. They’ll be able to tell you if your policy covers fires due to a fire pit and what you can do to protect yourself.

Are you ready to add some ambiance to your outdoor living space?  Coastal has portable fire pits for your backyard and camping adventures. We can even show you how to build your own fire pit safely and affordably. Stop by your favorite Coastal Farm & Ranch and find everything you need to enjoy and prepare for the coming season.

Quick Facts

  • Avoid using pine or cedar wood that will pop and throw sparks.
  • Put your fire out completely before leaving it unattended.
  • Don’t dispose of ash or coals in a paper sack or garbage receptacle. Use a metal can and allow coals to cool          for several days.

Coastal Recipe: Fire Pit S’mores

Try this new take on an old favorite.


  • Campfire marshmallows
  • A stick
  • Chocolate bar
  • Sugar cone (the kind you use for ice cream)
  • Aluminum foil


First, pack the bottom half of you sugar cone with marshmallows.

Top it off with a few chunks of your chocolate bar.

Then wrap the whole thing in aluminum, leaving a bit of foil at the top. That bit of foil is where you want to poke a hole with your stick.

Now, simply dangle your Fire Pit S’more (marshmallow-side down) above the fire until you’re sure the marshmallow and chocolate have melted into the cone. A few minutes should do it.

Just don’t burn the sugar cone.

Peel away the foil and enjoy.