Can You Use a Fire Pit During Fire Restrictions: Ethics + Consequences

a graphic depicting a fire restriction with a lit fire in the middle and red x through it

Fire restrictions are often placed during high fire danger to help prevent accidental fires. However, many people are unsure whether or not they are allowed to use their fire pits during these restrictions.

You can use your fire pit during fire restrictions. Fire pits are considered recreational fires with a low risk of causing wildfires as they are contained and have a limited fuel source. However, you must follow all the rules and regulations during fire restrictions to use your fire pit safely.

The rest of this article will explore a few topics related to using your fire pit during fire restrictions in great detail. I’ll start by discussing how fire restrictions work and go over some common fire pit laws and regulations during these restrictions. I’ll also talk about the ethics and consequences of using your fire pit when there are active restrictions. 

How Fire Restrictions Work

Fire restrictions are put in place during high fire danger to help prevent human-caused wildfires. When fire restrictions are in place, building, maintaining, or using a fire is illegal. This includes a campfire, charcoal grill, coal and wood burning fire pits or stove, and open flame.

Fire fighting helicopter carry water bucket to help extinguish a wildfire in a burning forest

The purpose of fire restrictions is to reduce the chances of an accidental fire. They are usually placed during high winds, low humidity, and dry conditions when wildfires are most likely to start and spread.

There are two fire restriction stages: stage 1 and stage 2. Stage 1 restrictions are the most common and less severe, while stage 2 restrictions are reserved for extreme conditions and are more restrictive.

The specific restrictions vary from place to place, but they typically ban activities that could start a fire, such as smoking, using fireworks, and operating machinery in dry grass. 

Fire pits are recreational and include any outdoor fires used for cooking, warmth, or enjoyment. In most cases, recreational fires are allowed during fire restrictions, as they have a low risk of causing wildfires. 

This is because fire pits are usually contained and have a limited fuel source. As long as the fire pit is used according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local fire regulations, it should be safe during restrictions.

However, checking with your local authorities, homeowners association, park services, or forest service before using your fire pit during restrictions is always best. The specific rules and regulations vary from place to place, and the severity of the fire danger can also change quickly.

Common Fire Pit Laws and Regulations

Most jurisdictions have laws or ordinances in place that regulate the use of fire pits during fire restrictions. The rules and regulations vary from place to place, but they typically include the following:

A loving couple sitting near a burning campfire and tent in the forest, in a beautiful night under dark sky full of shiny stars

Location Regulations

There may be restrictions in your area regarding where you can use your fire pit. Government agencies, homeowners associations, and park services dictate where fire pits can be used. 

For example, some places may only allow fire pits in designated areas, such as campgrounds or picnic areas, while others may allow them to be used anywhere on your property. Some jurisdictions may even ban the use of fire pits altogether. 

It is always best to confirm these regulations with your local authorities before using your fire pit during restrictions.

Distance From Structures

Fire pits must be located at least 25 feet (762 cm) away from structures, trees, and flammable materials. Some jurisdictions may have even stricter distance requirements that require fire pits to be located further away. 

Ensure there is also nothing overhead that could potentially catch fire from your fire pit. Sparks can travel long distances and start fires in trees or on roofs.

Type of Fire Pit

The kind of fire pit you use can also determine whether or not you are allowed to use it during restrictions. Gas-powered fire pits are the safest to use as they produce less smoke and sparks than wood-burning fire pits.

If you use a wood-burning fire pit, ensure it is enclosed on all sides with mesh screens to prevent sparks from escaping. Additionally, use small pieces of dry, seasoned wood as fuel to minimize the amount of smoke and sparks produced.

Fire pits should not be larger than 3 feet (91cm) in diameter and 2 feet (61cm) in height to reduce the risk of wildfires. The material the fire pit is made out of is also essential. Fire pits made of concrete, stone, or metal are typically allowed if they comply with the size restrictions. 

Pits made of clay, ceramic, or material that can easily break or shatter are not allowed as they can quickly spark and start a fire. If you plan on building your fire pit, use non-combustible materials to reduce the risk of wildfires.

During a total fire ban, you are only allowed to use a gas-fired fire pit if it has a shut-off valve. The valve stops the flow of gas to the fire, preventing any accidental fires from starting.

Fuel Restrictions

The fuel used in your fire pit is also regulated during fire restrictions. In most cases, you are only allowed to burn wood in your fire pit. Still, the amount burned at one time should be limited to ensure that the fire does not get out of control.

You should only use small pieces of wood that can be completely burned up in a few hours and must be extinguished before leaving the area.

Propane, natural gas, and other types of liquid fuels are allowed in gas-fired fire pits, but they must have a shut-off valve to prevent accidental fires.

Do not use any type of accelerants, such as gasoline, kerosene, or any other flammable liquid, to start or maintain your fire, as this can easily lead to a wildfire. Treated wood, such as construction lumber, should also not be used as it can release harmful chemicals into the air when burned.

Never burn trash, leaves, paper, or anything else that could potentially start a wildfire. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, clear any fallen leaves, branches, or other potential fuels that could start a fire around your property.

Other Operational Guidelines

Below are additional operational guidelines that apply during fire restrictions:

  • Never leave your fire unattended. Fire pits should be constantly monitored and extinguished when not attended to. The categories of people who should not build or attend a recreational fire include young children, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
  • Always have a water supply nearby to extinguish the fire if necessary. A garden hose or bucket of water should be kept close in case the fire gets out of control.
  • Weather conditions,such as wind, increase the risk of wildfires. Embers and sparks can be easily blown away from the fire pit and start a fire. 
  • Avoid having a fire on days when the wind is strong or if there is a red flag warning in effect. The temperature on the day of the fire is also essential to consider. The fire can quickly get out of control if it is too hot. 
  • Extinguish your fire pit properly before leaving the area. All wood and charcoal should be completely extinguished and cool to the touch before being disposed of. Pour water over the ashes and embers to ensure that they are completely extinguished. 

Ethical Considerations and Consequences of Non-Compliance

Using a fire pit during fire restrictions can have serious consequences, both legal and ethical. When making the decision to use a fire pit, always err on the side of caution and safety to avoid any potential disasters.

Here are some of the ethical considerations – and consequences of non-compliance – you need to bear in mind:

  • Always check with your local authorities to ensure you comply with all laws and regulations. The consequences of non-compliance with fire restrictions can be severe. Fines and jail time are possible outcomes for those who violate the law.  
  • In some cases, the person responsible for the fire may be held liable for all damages caused. This includes the cost of fighting the fire, property damage, and any injuries or fatalities. Non-compliance with fire restrictions is also a serious offense that can result in losing fire insurance coverage. 
  • It is also essential to consider the emotional impact of a wildfire. Wildfires can be traumatic for those who lose their homes or loved ones. Using a fire pit without following the rules and regulations during fire restrictions is a self-centered act that ignores the potential harm it could cause.
  • Fires can pose a severe risk to public safety. Many believe they have a right to use their fire pit whenever they want but they ignore this fact. During periods of fire restriction, there’s an increased risk of wildfires as more people are igniting fires, and it’s often drier and windier. Wildfires can destroy homes, businesses, and natural habitats if safety rules are not followed. They can also cause injuries and fatalities.


Although using a fire pit during fire restrictions is not illegal in most cases, it is risky. Not only could you be fined or even jailed, but you could also be held liable for any damages caused by the fire.

Before using a fire pit, you should always check with your local authorities to ensure you comply with all laws and regulations.

Also, consider the ethical implications of your actions. Using a fire pit during fire restrictions is a self-centered act that ignores the potential harm it could cause.

Was this content helpful?

Recent Posts

Legal Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, also participates in other affiliate and advertising programs, such as AdSense, ShareASale, Awin, Etsy, and CJ among others, and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.

I’d love to hear your feedback!