Fire pit rules in Calgary: What you need to know

Summer is just around the bend, and what better way to celebrate than a backyard fire with friends? Here are some things to keep in mind before grabbing your matches.

Violations can come with fines of up to $5,000

Have a fire pit in your yard? Make sure you know the rules. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

This article was updated after the Community Standards Bylaw was changed in November 2016.

The official start of summer is just around the bend, and what better way to celebrate than a backyard fire with friends?

"But we want to make sure everyone stays safe this summer," said Carol Henke with the Calgary Fire Department, which issued a reminder to Calgarians about the rules Wednesday.

Backyard fire pits fall under the Community Standards Bylaw, and violations can come with fines of up to $5,000.

Here is a summary of rules to keep in mind.

Maximum size and location

Fires are not allowed to exceed one metre at the widest and highest points and they must be at least two metres from any house, garage, structure, fence or property line.

The city says the fire also must not be under any trees, branches or other materials that can ignite.

It's recommended that pits are built into the ground on brick or stone in a fire-proof container. If you have a portable one on a wooden deck, make sure it's also placed on top of brick or stone.

Before you roast your marshmallows this summer, make sure your fire is the right size and location. (CBC)

When to burn

Fires are only allowed between 10 a.m. and 1 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to midnight during the week. But you should also keep in mind that noise bylaws come into effect after 10 p.m.

It's also good to know if your neighbours have health conditions that could be affected by the smoke, and watch for optimal wind conditions.

Carol Henke with the Calgary Fire Department hopes a rule reminder will help keep residents safe during what's been a dry spring so far. (CBC)

Watch it and be prepared

Ensure the fire is always supervised and always have a way to put out the flames nearby, such as a watering hose or bucket of water. 

A mesh screen or "spark guard" was made mandatory in November 2016 to reduce the spread of embers and sparks from wood-burning fire pits.

A fire pit cover can help contain the flames, and keep stray sparks and embers from spreading. (CBC)

Things you're not allowed to burn

The city says to only burn clean, dry firewood.

Here are some of the forbidden items to burn listed in the bylaw (although some are probably common sense):

  • Treated or painted lumber. 
  • Lumber products containing glue or resin.
  • Wet or unseasoned wood.
  • Leaves, brush or yard waste.
  • Garbage.
  • Rubber, tires or plastic.
  • Furniture.
  • Any animal carcass or part thereof.

The city increased fines for unsafe fires and burning prohibited materials in November 2016. 

The city has strict guidelines about what type of materials you can burn in your fire pit. (CBC)

Watch for fire bans

Always check the city's website to ensure no fire bans are in effect before using a fire pit.

The city lists any current fire bans on its website. (CBC)

Neighbours concerned with fire practices of those next door can flag concerns to 311, or report out-of-control fires to 911.

More information on backyard fires can be found on the city's website.