Safety tips to know before gathering at the fire pit

‘Tis (nearly) the season for grilling by day and gathering around the fire pit at night, so be sure not to spoil any warm weather fun with a fiery faux pas.

“Typically we tell people just to make sure that you have that circle of safety — you know, keep clutter away from any kind of open flame,” said Pete Piringer, spokesman for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue in Maryland.



When it comes to fire pits, Piringer said the most important thing is to use the proper wood or burning materials, and to avoid overloading the pit. If you have any doubts, he recommended that you to consult the manufacturer’s instructions.

And of course, be sure to keep kids and pets outside of that circle of safety, which Piringer said is at least 3 feet of distance between the flame and where people are situated.

You’ll want to be a bit more cautious when establishing a safe distance from a structure, especially one that’s flammable. A bare minimum of 10 feet — though 15 is preferred — should be kept between the open flame and a garage, house, wood pile or even a shrub or tree.

A screen is a good way to keep the fire contained in the pit and avoid sparks from catching onto anything.

But in case something does go wrong and your get-together becomes a bit more exciting than you planned for, Piringer said a few tools can help tamp down any small fires:

  • Fire extinguisher;
  • A garden hose nearby;
  • A small bucket pre-filled with water.

Those who don’t know how to use a fire extinguisher can go to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue’s website or search it up a “how to” video on YouTube.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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