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Owning a Fire Pit in Ottawa Isn’t All Fun and Games—Be Sure to Play Safe!

With summer on its way, you’ll soon be putting your patio to much more use. If you’re one of the many who wants to extend that patio use into the nighttime hours (and even into autumn nights), you’re probably considering buying a fire pit in Ottawa. These backyard accessories are quickly becoming a big deal amongst homeowners, and it’s easy to see why: imagine all the joy and warmth of sitting by a fireplace, only instead of being indoors you’re sitting in the fresh, open air as you spend time with friends and family. Who wouldn’t want to bask in the wonderful and warm glow of an outdoor fire? But owning and operating a fire pit isn’t all fun and games—it’s also a responsibility. Here are some tips for safely using your fire pit:

Brush Up on the Rules

Did you know that there is an Ottawa fire pit by-law? The Open Air Fire By-law classifies such installations as outdoor fireplaces, and regulates their use within the city of Ottawa. Before operating one, you must obtain an Open Air Fire Permit. They are only permitted within designated areas, must be located no less than five metres from and structure or combustible materials, and must be placed on a non-combustible surface (patio brick works fine). You must also only burn dry firewood and notify Ottawa Fire Services every time you intend to use it.

Take Measures to Ensure Basic Fire Safety

Certain measures are already covered by the by-law, such as operating your fire pit on non-combustible surfaces and keeping it a safe distance away from any structures or plants. You should also never place your pit underneath an overhang or tree branches—there should be nothing but open sky over it. You should always be aware of the wind direction, and never light a fire on an excessively windy day. Instead of using lighter fuel, which can become hazardous, or paper, which can cause sparks, you can buy and use commercial fire-starting kits designed to be easily lit. Never leave any fire unattended, especially if you have small children or pets, and always have a backup plan in case of emergency.

Know How to Put It Out

Many people extinguish their fire pits with water, using a shovel to stir it around and make sure that the fire’s completely out. When you do this, be sure to dispose of the ashes safely and effectively. Ashes can actually remain hot enough to start a fire for several days afterwards, so you must never dispose of them in compost, cardboard, paper, or any other potentially flammable container. A metal can, such as an old-fashioned garbage can, makes a fine receptacle for your ashes. Never leave a fire that seems to be going out alone to die out unsupervised—this is a recipe for unintended accidents. Always make sure that it is completely out before leaving the fire pit.