Sitting around an open fire listening to different stories or telling one yourself is one of the most inexpensive ways to relax nowadays.
That’s probably why it’s a great idea to have a fire pit in your home somewhere.
However, there are a few questions that bug a lot of homeowners in the sunshine state.
Are fire pits legal in Florida? What are the regulations that surround it?
Is it possible to enjoy an open fire in this state?
We’ll try to answer most of your burning questions today to ensure you won’t break any laws.
- Open Burning Regulations
- When Is Open Burning Allowed?
- Open Burning vs. Fire Pits
- Are Fire Pits Legal in Florida?
- Fire Pit Safety
- Using Fire Pits Without Breaking Any Laws
Open Burning Regulations
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection implements certain regulations on open burning.
The purpose is to protect the natural environment and communities in the state from the risks that open burning might possess.
When it comes to the materials used, here are the ones that Florida residents are not allowed to burn:
- Biological waste
- Devices with mercury
- Hazardous waste
- Materials with asbestos
- Used oil
- Treated wood
- Residual oil
- Roofing material
- Rubber material
Furthermore, open burning is prohibited, no matter what the material being burned is, during Air Pollution Episodes or as per National Weather Service Air Stagnation Advisory.
On top of this, the FFS or Florida Forest Service reserves all the right to determine whether or not the current conditions are unsafe for open burning.
When Is Open Burning Allowed?
In residential areas, open burning is allowed as long as the materials being burned are yard wastes.
This includes leaves, brush, grass clippings, shrub trimmings, and the like.
Additionally, the act of open burning shall only be conducted from eight in the morning to an hour before sunset, which is usually around 7:00 p.m.
The yard waste must also be enclosed in a non-flammable container and at least 25 feet away from any combustible structure.
It should also be at least 50 feet away from the public roadway.
Open Burning vs. Fire Pits
So, the question now that we have to answer is, “Are fire pits considered open burning?”
After all, you’re burning materials in an open container.
In many ways, fire pits are indeed open burning. Does this mean that fire pits are subject to the same regulations as implemented by the FDEP and FFS?
Well, the thing is, even though they are pretty much the same, there are still quite a few significant differences between open burning and fire pits.
For instance, open burning and fire pit both expel smoke into the air.
However, fire pits are often off the ground and far from combustible materials.
Additionally, open burning is almost always used to discard yard waste, so the smoke comes from leaves and grass trimmings.
On the other hand, fire pits are almost always used for recreational activities, so the smoke comes from charcoal or wood pellets.
This brings us back to the essential question at hand: “Are fire pits legal in Florida?”
Are Fire Pits Legal in Florida?
The regulations surrounding fire pits differ in each city in Florida.
To help you navigate through them, here are the cities or counties with local regulations on fire pits and other forms of an open fire:
The city of Melbourne prohibits any form of outdoor fire pits unless the person who owns it has a permit.
You would have to register your fire pit to the local government, and they will then charge you $50.00 for inspection.
These fire pits have to be 25 feet away from any combustible material, and the diameter should be no more than three feet.
Bonfires are not allowed in Hillsborough County. Whether it’s for religious ceremonies or social gatherings, you will need a permit to start a bonfire.
These permits include the time, date, and location of the bonfire.
Additionally, the name of the person overseeing the fire must also be submitted to the council.
However, small fires such as fire pits would not require you to submit a permit to the local government, as long as it’s in a non-flammable container.
Additionally, you must follow the safety precautions from the Hillsborough Country Fire Marshal, which include a 25-feet distance from any structure.
The fire pit must also be attended to at all times to prevent accidents.
Furthermore, a fire extinguisher or a garden hose must be ready at your disposal.
Martin County only requires a permit for the open burning of residential yard waste, and it should have a diameter of less than eight feet.
On the other hand, recreational fires such as fire pits are allowed and would not require you to submit a permit.
However, there are also certain regulations on fire pits.
One of which is that it should not have a diameter of more than three feet.
Just like in the other counties, the fire pit should be at least 25 feet away from any structure.
Fire pits are allowed in St. Augustine as long as they follow the guidelines of the local government.
The city does not allow open outdoor fires even if you request a permit.
However, if you cover your fire pit with a metal mesh, it does not fall under the category of “open fire.”
Additionally, you must ensure that you’re not using construction materials and debris to light the pit.
It must also not be used to dispose of trash.
Broward Country does not have specific regulations on fire pits. However, they do have guidelines on “recreational fires.”
Whether it’s a fire pit, bonfire, or campfire, you can start them in your residence.
You just have to ensure that the fire does not cause excessive smoke.
Additionally, the gathering must not cause a nuisance to other residents.
Nonetheless, you have to request approval from the fire authority before starting a recreational fire.
Lehigh Acres holds certain regulations on recreational fire.
While you do not have to request approval, you must provide information to the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District.
This information includes the person responsible for the recreational fire, a phone number, the address, type, and size of the fire.
If you plan to have a fire that’s more than eight feet in diameter, you have to get approval from the Florida Forest Service.
Sarasota County follows most of the regulations under the Florida Open Burning Act.
They allow fire pits as long as it’s at least 10 feet away from any combustible material or structure.
You must also have all the necessary fire-extinguishing equipment nearby should the fire be uncontrollable.
The fire should also be supervised at all times.
Fire Pit Safety
Most counties allow fire pits as long as they follow certain regulations.
The only reason some areas in Florida hold such strict rules on fire pits is the possibility of accidental fire.
That said, you must know how to follow safety precautions to avoid accidents.
Here are some of them that should help you out:
Check for Wind Conditions
Several counties allow fire pits as long as they have a metal mesh cover.
This is because the embers from the burning coal or wood could easily be blown away by the wind.
Ergo, you should check for the day’s wind conditions in your area to keep you and your home safe.
Extinguish the Flames
Once you’re done using the fire pit, don’t let the coal or wood die out. Instead, put the fire out with water.
On the other hand, you can also use a shovel to throw dirt onto the embers to smother them.
Leaving them burning could still pose a potential danger to your surroundings.
Stay Updated With Local Alerts
Your local government or the state of Florida would often issue “no-burn” alerts.
This means that you cannot start an open fire or a fire pit.
That’s because they deemed that the current weather conditions could cause an unhealthy level of pollution and compromise the quality of the local air.
Please be informed that continuing to start your fire pit despite the no-burn advisory will result in fines.
Using Fire Pits Without Breaking Any Laws
So, are fire pits legal in Florida? While the sunshine state imposes certain guidelines on all forms of recreational and open fires, their legality differs from one county to another.
The best thing you could do to ensure that you’re not breaking any laws is to visit your local government and inquire about their reservations on open burning.