Building a Proper Fire Pit and Regulations For Use

Building a Proper Fire Pit and Regulations For Use

Enjoying conversations, the night sky, and roasted marshmallows around a fire pit is a truly summertime experience for Calgarians. There is really nothing quite like feeling like you’re camping in the middle of a big city, and the time together creates unforgettable memories for family and friends.

As Mirage Landscaping has more than three generations of experience providing professional commercial and residential landscaping services for southeast Calgary communities, we have helped many build a fire pit in their yards. Just one of our landscape construction services is the erection of retaining walls to help provide more usable surface area, reduce the waste of water, and reinforce Calgary’s many sloped properties. The masonry involved in building a retaining wall is similar to building a good fire pit, so if you have been considering one, be sure to let us know. 

Many don’t realize the skill and expertise it takes to build a fire pit. In addition to that, there are bylaws that apply to their structure and use, and failure to comply could result in a steep fine.

What it Takes to Build a Fire Pit

Calgary bylaws for fire pits also pertain to outdoor fireplaces, wood-burning ovens, and Chimneas. The City of Calgary requires that:

  • Permanent backyard fire pits must be built into the ground, on a brick or stone pad, or in a fire-proof container. 
  • Portable fire pits may be used on a stone or brick deck, but never directly on wood.
  • Fire pits must be placed at least two metres away from homes, garages, outdoors structures, fences, and property lines.
  • Fire pits cannot be placed underneath a tree or near any shrubs, branches, wood, or anything that can easily catch fire.
  • Fires must not reach a size of more than one metre high and one metre wide.
  • A screen or spark guard is mandatory to prevent embers and sparks from escaping. Openings in the mesh screen must be less than 1.24 centimetres wide. 
  • Your fire pit must be close to a source of water or an extinguisher. 
  • Fires must be supervised at all times.

The ideal way to build a fire pit is to dig a round trench at least 12 inches in depth and from 36 to 44 inches wide. We then fill the pit with about six inches of gravel, and tamp it down thoroughly to provide a solid platform for your fire, but also allow for drainage when the fire needs to be extinguished.

We then line the pit with high-quality, heat resistant bricks that are attractive and durable, and ensure each is perfectly level so that there will never be tilting, leaning, or buckling of the bricks. We can also make sure the bricks match your outdoor décor. For additional safety, we can add in a thick steel ring on the interior to insulate the bricks and extend their use. 

The walls of the fire pit should not extend more than one foot off the ground. Once they have been erected and adhered together we will add more gravel to further strengthen the structure. 

Tips For Safe and Respectful Burning

City bylaws state that only clean and dry firewood be used in a fire pit. You may not burn:

  • Painted wood, as burning it releases toxins that are harmful to breathe. They also remain in the air for long periods of time. 
  • Wood from another region, as it could release foreign parasites and bugs and upset the ecosystem. 
  • Wet wood, as it creates far more smoke and releases more toxins.
  • Green yard waste, such as leaves or grass, as they release harmful substances. Composting green yard waste is a far better idea. 

The burning of garbage, rubber, plastic, and furniture is also prohibited. These items should be recycled or taken to one of the city’s landfills

It is important when using a fire pit to always be considerate of your neighbours. Watch that smoke isn’t blowing into windows and homes, and remember that a windy day is not a good day for a fire.

Fire pits can only be used from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to midnight from Sundays to Thursdays. Keep in mind, too that fire bans can happen in the city. Check to make sure there are no fire bans in effect, as a fine for violating one can go as high as $5,000.

Contact Mirage for all Your Landscaping Needs

If you would like to build a fire pit, contact usat Mirage Landscaping. We can recommend the ideal placement, the best materials, and the right size for your yard. We also provide residential and commercial landscaping maintenance and construction services for these southeast Calgary districts and communities:

Auburn Bay, Chaparral, Chaparral Valley, Copperfield, Cranston, Douglasdale, Heritage Pointe, Lake Bonavista, Mahogany, McKenzie Lake, Mackenzie Towne, Maple Ridge, New Brighton, Odgen/Lynwood/Millican, Parkland, Riverbend, Sundance, Walden, and Willow Park.

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