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City of De Pere

Backyard recreational fires in a fire pit or similar structure are fun for all and a great way to add some pizazz to your yard. There's nothing like gathering around a dancing fire with friends and loved ones to cook, eat, catch up and unwind.

You can purchase fire pits in a wide range of sizes and styles. When you buy them pre-built (as opposed to building your own), you know they've been made in accord with many safety guidelines.

About the only drawback to beautiful backyard recreational fires is what can happen if you fail to follow a few best practices. Here's what you need to know to get the most out of your outdoor fires.

Backyard fire safety tips
Before lighting your first fire, check with authorities in your area to find out if there are any kind of restrictions on building outdoor fires. The City of De Pere s municipal code can be found here:
Build fires in a fireproof structure surrounded by a safety wall (raised area around the circumference) to prevent logs from rolling away when the stack settles.
Keep the burning area free of loose paper, leaves and other debris; place the fire pit safely away from roof overhangs, trees, shrubbery and any other materials that could ignite.
For added protection, install a fire screen around the pit.
Operate fire pits only on flat ground.
Don't build a fire during periods of strong winds.
Keep lighter fluid, gasoline and other flammables far away from the fire pit.
Have a first aid kit and fire extinguisher handy.
Never leave the fire unattended or put children in charge of the fire.

Building and burning your fire
Use seasoned (dry) wood, which burns hot and clean. Damp wood will create excess smoke that neither you nor the environment will enjoy. A moisture meter will let you know for sure that your wood is dry.
Items to NOT burn in your firepit include household garbage, garden waste, magazines, clothing, plastic and metal as they all produce large amounts of harmful black smoke. If you burn nothing but seasoned wood and/or charcoal, you'll be in good shape.
Stack logs with enough room for them to breathe, and use twigs or a little newspaper as tinder to get the fire rolling. Don't overfill the fire pit with wood, rather add wood gradually until you reach a fire level that's comfortable and appropriate.

Extinguishing the fire
When you're finished enjoying your fire, use water to completely extinguish it. Never let a backyard fire die down on its own without supervision.
After about 24 hours, scoop out and place ashes and wood chips into a metal container. It's advisable to use protective gloves when handling partially burned wood. Do not put fire-pit waste into your household or yard waste trash barrels or a compost pile, because remnants of a fire can retain enough heat for up to three days to start a new fire.
These are some tips that will help you get the most out of your backyard recreational fires. When burning any kind of fire, remember the most important rule: always err on the side of caution.
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City of De Pere
City of De Pere, Wisconsin
335 S. Broadway, De Pere WI 54115
Phone: 920.339.4050 Fax: 920.330.9491
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