How close can a fire pit be to a house?
Two factors influence how close can a fire pit be to a house.
There is pure science, i.e., the amount of heat generated by the burner and the distance that flammable objects need to be from the heat source.
Then there is legislation stipulating how close to other structures etc., applicable Codes state is acceptable.
There are, of course, two kinds of fire pits, gas fire pits and wood-burning fire pits.
Gas fire pits are far more stable and predictable than their wood-burning cousins and, therefore, can be located closer to other structures.
In this article, we will discuss gas fire pits first; scroll down the page for wood-burning fire pit information.
Depending on where you live, Codes may or may not apply to your fire pit project and dictate how close can a fire pit be to a house? At the planning stage of your project, check your county’s fire pit rules online or call your local fire department for information.
Some counties’ codes are strict and will seriously influence what you can and cannot build. There is no uniformity of fire pit Codes across the country, so it is essential to check if they are applicable before you purchase any equipment or start to build.
Gas Fire Pits
From the science perspective, things are a little more straightforward.
The instruction manual of a good quality fire pit kit will advise you of the clearances required for safe installation. However, bear in mind that these recommendations probably will be less than Code requirements that must be complied with where applicable.
Calculated from the BTU rating of the burner, the clearances will differ for different-sized burners.
For example, an HPC Burner insert rated at 65,000 BTUs requires the following clearances:
- Sides Surrounding Fire Pit From Structure or Combustibles – 36″ (12″ for non-combustibles)
- Overhead Clearance above Product – 84″
For HPC Burners rated from 201,000 BTU up to 4000,000 BTU, the following clearances apply:
- Sides Surrounding Fire Pit From Structure or Combustibles – 48″ (12″ for non-combustible)
- Overhead Clearance above Product – 120″
If your project is subject to Codes, you may find that the manufactures clearance recommendations are greater than the Codes in some situations. That being the case, you should follow the manufacturers’ guidance, as this will comply with the stipulated Codes.
One Code stipulation that seems very common across the counties is that Gas Fire Pits should be at least 10 feet from any structure.
On the other hand, when the county’s Codes stipulations are greater than the manufacturers’, you must always comply with the Codes.
Wood Burning Fire Pits
In the case of wood burning-fire pits, as with gas fire pits, depending on where you live, Codes may apply to your wood burner fire pit. Check your county’s fire pit rules online or call your local fire department for information.
Wood Burners range from holes in the ground with half a tree burning away to a 24-inch metal bowl with some small logs.
The issue is that either can fire out a red hot ember with potentially catastrophic results.
Many Codes we have seen stipulate that there must be at least 50 feet ( 15m ) clearance to any other structure, including overhanging items such as trees.
When possible, reduce the risk of flying embers by fitting a fire pit screen to your wood-burning fire pit.
Always have a bucket of sand close by to put out any embers that have landed, and never leave a wood-burning fire pit unattended.
How close can a fire pit be to a house – further reading: