Safety Center

Thinking of a Building a Fire Pit? Some Things To Consider

Backyard fire pits are a popular way to add ambiance to your backyard, and they also serve as a social centerpiece when entertaining outdoors. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when it comes to fire pit safety.

Know Local Codes

  • Check with your local fire department for fire pit codes and regulations
  • Some communities require a fire permit in areas prone to drought

Choose a Safe Location

  • Avoid placing your fire pit on grass
  • Keep it 10-to-20 feet away from flammable structures (shed, wood deck, picnic table) or trees
  • Surround the fire pit with fireproof materials (concrete, gravel, brick, slate, stone)

Before You Start the Fire

  • Remove leaves, mulch, and branches that are within five feet of the fire pit
  • Never start a fire if a strong wind is forecasted
  • Keep a bucket of sand or dirt and a garden hose nearby to cool
  • Have a Class A fire extinguisher available in case of an emergency

Starting the Fire

  • Use long-stemmed matches
  • Avoid using an accelerant (lighter fluid, kerosene, gas)
  • Burn eco-wood pellets and recycled fire logs to create less smoke
  • Use small, dry hardwood (ash, hickory, oak)
  • Avoid using softwoods (cedar, pine), which can generate flying embers
  • Use a long-handled poker and tongs to move logs
  • Place a metal screen over the fire to limit sparks jumping out

Once the Fire is Lit

  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away
  • Never leave the fire unattended
  • Use stable outdoor furniture (not folding) if you plan to gather around the pit

Extinguishing the Fire

  • Let it burn out
  • A snuffer (metal cover) will cut off the oxygen feeding the fire
  • Douse with water
  • Turn off — if you have a gas fire pit
  • Stir the ash and embers

Disposing of Ashes

  • Wait for the fire to cool
  • Ashes can remain hot for up to 2-to-3 days
  • Only dispose of in a metal can specifically for ashes
  • Never discard hot ashes in paper bags, cardboard boxes, or compost piles
  • Clean the pit after removing ashes to avoid rusting

NJM Insurance Group’s Commitment to Safety

NJM’s enduring commitment to safety can be traced back to our earliest days — with a focus that has expanded from improving conditions in manufacturing facilities to helping keep customers safe on the roads and at home. NJM is a leader in personal and commercial auto, homeowners, and workers’ compensation insurance.


  1. Lucian Deaton, “4 simple steps to ensure your fire pit does not become a wildfire,”, (June 10, 2020).

  2. “Grill & Fire Pit Safety,”, (June 28, 2019).

  3. Julie Martens Forney and Mick Telkamp, “Fire Pit Maintenance Tips,”

Our Safety Center pages are filled with tips related to the safety and maintenance of your home and autos. The information contained in these articles should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.