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September 01, 2017

Are outdoor fire pits legal in Philadelphia?

Outdoors Laws
Fire Pit Pixabay/Pexels

This here's a fire pit.

Nothing complements a brisk autumn evening like a toasty outdoor fire. But is it legal to have one in Philadelphia?

The short answer is yes — with several regulations.

In 2006, the Department of Licenses and Inspections issued a code bulletin on the use of portable outdoor fireplaces after multiple inquiries from residents. A spokesperson for the department said the bulletin is the most current set of regulations.

The department said portable fireplaces don't fall under the restrictions on open burning, or burning combustible materials into the air without the smoke passing through a stack or chimney.

Portable fireplaces are only allowed if they meet the following requirements:

• They have to be completely covered. That can either be a solid material or a heavy screen. It needs to "prevent large embers that may cause a fire from escaping into the atmosphere." The bulletin included some examples in a picture:

None

• You must use "appropriate" types of fuel, like non-pressure-treated wood, charcoal or fireplace logs. Propane units, obviously, must use propane. No waste, or anything that would cause "excessive" smoke. Don't use more than the safety regulations for the fireplace permit.

• It has to be 15 feet away from any structure. That includes decks and balconies. It also can't be placed on a deck, inside a tent or on or under a roof.

• The fire must be attended to at all times until it's extinguished.

In summation, many little row home backyards won't do, you have to cover it in some way, and don't burn your trash. And in addition to those requirements, the department says that residents must adhere to the safety restrictions laid out by the manufacturer of the fireplace.

You can read the full bulletin regarding outdoor fireplaces here, and Philadelphia's complete fire code is here.

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