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Are backyard fire pits legal?

Photo of backyard fire pit
The short answer is, sometimes. Yeah, that’s confusing I realise, but with the use of fire pits controlled mostly by the council and state laws, it can be a bit of a minefield to work out if and when you can have one burning.

The demand for fire pits has risen dramatically in recent months.

With the global coronavirus pandemic keeping most Aussie families at home, there’s been a huge increase in interest in backyard activities. For those of us who are lucky to have some room to move outside the house, getting outside has been a godsend for our physical and mental health.

Whether it’s having a fire on the weekend, cooking dinner and toasting marshmallows with the kids, or setting up a full campsite over Easter long weekend, it’s obvious that we are outdoors more often and the demand for outdoor fire pits has risen sharply in 2020.

We are also seeing more coverage in our newspapers on the legality of owning a fire pit, especially in urban or highly residential areas.

Is it legal to have a fire pit?

The short answer is, sometimes. Yeah, that’s confusing I realise, but with the use of fire pits controlled mostly by the council and state laws, it can be a bit of a minefield to work out if and when you can have one burning.

Recent reports in the news about a Brisbane family who was visited by their local council to ask them to extinguish their outside fire pit, due to complaints by a neighbour has really made a lot of people question their legality.

Making a good fire

Generally, having a well-made fire pit in your backyard should not cause any major issues. Here’s a quick set of ideas for making your weekend fire night more enjoyable for you and the people who live around you.

Make sure you use dry wood.

Firewood that is wet, or still green can cause large amounts of unnecessary smoke, potentially upsetting your neighbours and causing irritation to your eyes, throat and lungs.

Using properly aged and dried wood creates a ‘clean-burning’ and hot flame, resulting in far less smoke and a better experience for you and your family, too.

Talk to your neighbours first.

The best way to know if your backyard fire is causing problems for those around you is to simply ask them. Let them know you are planning to have a small fire pit fire and to let you know if the smoke is getting too annoying for them. Some people, especially more elderly neighbours can struggle with respiratory problems, and giant wafts of smoke coming into their home aren’t ideal, so always best to have respect and check in with them

Make sure your fire is well managed.

By using a solid, steel fire pit or dedicated place for your fire, you can make sure to keep all the hot coals and embers contained. This reduces the risk of the fire getting away from you or stepping on a piping hot coal. Yeouch!

Check your local laws

We’ve put together a state by state list of the rules and regulations on our article about using a fire pit in a fire ban. These links also have the guidelines in non-fire-ban times as well, so head on over to your state link and check them out.

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