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"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….” Ironically, the fire referred to in this well-loved holiday song is nottechnically an open fire. The term open fire is often used in fire regulations, but many people don't know what constitutes an open fire. 

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What is an Open Fire? 

When it comes to fire regulations, they can be difficult to understand. This often stems from the terms they use. Many regulations mention an open fire but may not define what an open fire is. This can leave you wondering if your fire pit is an open fire and why it makes a difference. 

Put simply, an open fire is a fire that doesn't have a chimney or stack. The term applies to several different types of fires. A campfire, fire pit, or bonfire are all types of open fire. 

Recreational Fires

Within the broader category of open fires are other categories. The most common one for the average person is a recreational fire. This type of fire includes bonfires, campfires, and firepits. 

There are a few requirements for being considered a recreational fire. Most areas have size limits, with the most common being 3 feet in length and 3 feet high. If the fire is larger than this, it is not considered recreational. 

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What Can You Burn in an Open Fire? 

Typically, a recreational fire involves those used for warmth, cooking, or simple enjoyment. It does not include burning items to dispose of them.

Trash or leaf fires are not considered recreational fires. Some areas restrict or prohibit burning items other than firewood or charcoal. These include trash, leaves, treated wood, tires, and roofing materials.

There are restrictions on other materials as well. Most areas don't allow you to burn paper or cardboard. It causes excessive smoke, and the chemicals the paper is treated with are not safe to burn.

Wooden pallets and treated wood are also a no-go. They can contain harmful chemicals when released into the air via burning. 

Green leafy branches shouldn't be burned in your recreational fire either. In addition to being difficult to burn, the excess moisture puts off too much smoke. 

Open Fire Regulations

In addition to what you can burn in the fire pit, there are regulations for where you can build a campfire. Generally, you must have the fire at least 10 feet away from any property lines. Most areas require the fire to be at least 25 feet away from homes, sheds, and vehicles. 

Determining Local Regulations

You must know the regulations in your area. Because regulations can vary from place to place, it's impossible to give an accurate list of all regulations for your area. 

Regulations can also vary based on the season and weather conditions. Some areas ban fires during periods of drought or high winds, and some areas ban them during the dry months of the year. Some areas require a fire permit for an open fire, while others only require a permit for large open fires. 

The easiest way to know the regulations in your area is to perform a Google search. You can also call your local fire department or other officials.  

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Safe Open Fires

You want to enjoy your recreational fire, but it's essential to do so safely. The best way to do this is to plan for the lazy option. It's a basic human concept that is useful in many areas of life. 

Without a fire pit, you'll need to create a ring from blocks or rocks and ensure the ground’s surface is safe for burning. 

Walden Backyards offers two safe fire pit options. The first is the Legacy Series™ Steel Fire Pit Insert Set which includes everything you need to add a fire pit to your existing stone ring.

The second is the heavy-duty fire pit ring. This simple fire pit is placed on the ground, and the fire is contained within it. 

These fire pits make enjoying a campfire in your backyard easy and attractive. They can also help you build a fire safely and meet local regulations. Not to mention, afire pit grate elevating your firewood means a better, safer, and cleaner burn. 

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