Outdoor fire pit laws

Written by jeremiah blanchard
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Outdoor fire pit laws
(Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Jonathan Lawton)

Sitting around a campfire out on the trail cooking or telling ghost stories is a favourite pastime of outdoor enthusiasts across the globe. Whether in your backyard or out in the wilderness, a fire pit can be potentially hazardous if the proper precautions haven't been taken. You should adhere to all local and government laws applying to fire pit use every time you light a fire.

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National and State Parks

State and national parks both usually offer camping arrangements of some sort including a fire ring or pit adjacent to a campsite, however many national and state parks have adopted rules prohibiting open fire pits and campers must use a camp stove if they wish to cook food in certain locations. Check with the park administrator or park ranger to ensure that fire pit use is allowed at your designated campsite. Rules and regulations will vary across the country in national parks.

Bureau of Land Management

Non-regulated campsites such as camping areas provided by BLM or Bureau of Land Management are frequently under fire warnings and burn bans particularly in the western U.S. during the hot and dry summer months. Fire pits have usually been left behind open or buried at campsites throughout BLM grounds, however if dry or dangerous wind conditions exist, fire pit privileges may be suspended until further notice. When camping out on BLM grounds, be sure to adhere to all current rules applying to the use of fire pits and pay attention to fire danger bulletins posted upon entering the BLM site.

Backyard Use

Laws concerning home or backyard use of fire pits vary widely from location to location. Normally municipal or downtown residents cannot burn anything in their yard at any time because of smoke pollution and closer proximity to other residents. Some areas have laws in place at certain times of the year that prohibit the burning of anything due to dry and windy conditions presenting a fire danger, these are local burn bans and can go into effect at any time throughout the year. Check your local ordinances on fire management before using a fire pit in your yard.

Wilderness Back-country Use

Back-country fire pits at many state and national parks require a permit not only to camp but to make a fire as well. Typically park rangers will issue a permit under low fire danger conditions and give you a guide on how to build and properly dispose of your fire pit. Certain back country wilderness areas have fire pits set up along trail routes to diminish fire danger and wood gathering. On some backcountry trails, fire pits are completely prohibited and a camp stove must be used for cooking. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics while camping and disposing of your fire pit.

Fire Permits

Larger fires like bonfires for big social events require special permits depending on the area in which you live. Typically, along the U.S. gulf coast, fire permits are required for any burning on the beach front, whether for a fire pit or an open bonfire. You can contact your local fire marshal to find out the rules and regulations on having a fire in your local area. These rules may be strict in areas prone to drought or extremely dry conditions.

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