We can enjoy fire pits and bonfires most months in Maryland, though there is a unique ambiance provided on crisp fall evenings that is hard to beat. But the heat, fire, and flames can pose real dangers to your family and home, so safety is a priority before you pull out the marshmallows and get cozy near the fire.
Find the Perfect Spot
Bonfires are usually more enormous and more challenging to control because they aren’t in a confined pit like a fire pit is. Of course, large gatherings and celebrations lend themselves exceptionally well to bonfires. With the intense heat generated by a bonfire, you should set it up at least 50 feet from any building. On the other hand, fire pits can be as close as 10 feet from a building, with 25 feet being the optimal length away from any structure, including fences.
Avoid building a fire too close to sheds, fences, shrubs, and trees, so sparks set no accidental fire. People should avoid making a fire under:
- Covered porches
- Telephone and utility wires
- Low hanging tree limbs
Fire pits should never be lit directly on grass or a wooden deck. Instead, place the fire pit on the patio or a concrete platform. Any stable, non-flammable surface is usually a good choice, as long as it’s a safe distance from surrounding structures or plants.
Before you set up your bonfire or fire pit, you have to prepare the area. This means removing flammable materials, including dry leaves, fabric, paper, and other materials from a five-foot perimeter around the fire.
You can use rock piles around the fire to keep it from escaping. To contain the embers and flames, fire pits should be six inches or more deep in the center and two feet across.
Ensure your wood is dry and seasoned before burning it. Damp wood can cause smoke and hide potential risks until it’s too late. You should never burn furniture and household items. They could contain coatings or polishes that could produce high flames or harmful smoke.
Have a shovel and fire extinguisher handy, so you can quickly put out any escape flames. Having a hose nearby can also help douse the fire and prevent it from spreading.
Fire Safety Tips
Once your fire is blazing, adhere to these safety tips to keep the fun going and avoid potential safety risks:
- Never leave the bonfire or fire pit unattended
- Keep kids and pets away from the fire
- Avoid wearing loose-fitting or flammable clothes near the fire
- Use a mesh cover or screen to keep embers and sparks inside
When you’re ready to extinguish the fire, let the wood burn down to ashes first. Then, spread them over the entire surface area and allow them to cool.
If you use water to extinguish the flame, stand back to avoid getting splashed with hot water. Ensure the embers and ashes are fully saturated and keep an eye on the area to ensure there are no flare-ups.
Do not bury the fire! It can continue to smolder underneath, and if there are roots nearby, they could catch, and a fire could spread into a wildfire.
The Fire and Smoke Professionals
Even with the best fire pit and bonfire safety plans, accidents can still happen. If your fire got out of control and caused fire or smoke damage to your home or car, call the licensed professionals at Allied Restoration in Gambrills, Maryland, for a free estimate.