Fire pit safety tips

Advice for a safe winter season


The fall season is now upon us. Ask any East Meadow firefighter about nuisance fire calls and among them would be the many smoke investigations from backyard fire pits this time of year.

Common in the cooler season, fire pits have become the norm for residents across the United States. With a warm fire and soft crackle, there are not many better settings than the great outdoors. But, there are many things that your East Meadow volunteers want you to know about your fire pit for the safety of our community and those who protect it.

In nearly every case, the safety measures listed below are the result of what your East Meadow firefighter has seen right here in the past few years.

First and foremost, a certain degree of respect must be given to an open fire. Here are some important rules to live by:

No. 1, your fire pit must be kept under control at all times similar to

the rules of a campground. Never leave your fire pit unattended. Never have it in close proximity to combustible materials such as a brush, sheds, your home or garage.

No. 2, your pit should be situated on a non-combustible surface such as a stone patio. Never put your fire pit on or near a wood deck.

No. 3, if your fire pit is fed by natural gas, paying careful attention to the distance of the tank is important. Remember, like your gas grill, raw gas presents an immediate danger in an uncontrolled state. Should you have a gas leak, immediately contact the fire department. Our professionals are ready to handle the situation.

No. 4, never bring your fire pit indoors. Even an extinguished, but smoldering fire can still give off deadly gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

No. 5, never burn any non-ordinary materials like plastic, rubber and synthetics. These materials can take on an odor, creating concern during a fire department response.

No. 6, read all documentation that accompanies your newly purchased fire pit. A manufacturer may have specific requirements to keep your family safe.

No. 7, never leave a fire pit to the play of children. Such a danger can result in serious injury.

No. 8, alcohol and fire pits do not go together. Intoxication commonly causes poor judgment and blatant disregard for safety,

No. 9, respect your neighbors. Your smoke condition may create a wonderful atmosphere for you, but not for those around you.

No. 10, your fire pit should be screened. A screen is likely to restrict embers from flying into the air. However, never operate your fire pit in windy weather. Wind or not, these embers are likely to land on a home or other combustible site causing a fire.

No. 11, never place your fire under an awning or other overhead structure. Heat from the fire can accumulate at the ceiling and reach the temperature of igniting combustibles.

No. 12, remember, the smoke you create can cause a reaction of concern in the community. Ultimately, the volunteers may be called to respond. If your smoke hangs low due to atmospheric conditions, it is time to put the fire out.

No. 13, if the fire department responds, the call is for your smoke. Please don’t hide your activity. It will only force our volunteers to patrol longer and in many cases, do a yard search to ensure our community is safe.

No. 14, put your fire out after each use. On many occasions, dozens of volunteers have responded in the early morning hours for an odor of smoke from a fire pit that was last enjoyed the previous evening.

No. 15, be aware that cooler temperatures force many homeowners to

shut off their garden hoses to prevent freezing. Always have a fire extinguisher or other source of water ready in the event of a mishap.

No. 16, if you are a neighbor reporting a smoky condition that is produced by a confined, controlled fire pit, you have reported a false alarm. False alarms only increase the risk to those who protect the community. A better option to stop a fire pit when a neighbor is uncooperative is to call law enforcement.

This article is intended solely for the safety of our community and our Fire Service. If you smell smoke outside and feel concerned, call the East Meadow Fire Department. We are ready to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week.