Puget Sound Clean Air Agency

Photo: Duraflame "Open Air" log being used outside. Courtesy www.duraflame.comDon’t get burned
by the law

Know the facts about recreational fires

Recreational fires are defined in state law as cooking fires and charcoal barbecues, campfires and bonfires that occur in designated areas or on private property for cooking, pleasure or ceremonial purposes. Fires lit in chimineas, fire pits, fire bowls and similar free-standing devices, commonly sold at home-improvement stores and mass retailers, fall under this definition. They are allowed in both urbanized and unincorporated areas, though the following regulations apply:

  • Keep it small not tall. Fires must not exceed three feet in diameter or two feet in height.

  • Fuel it right. Only charcoal, dried firewood or manufactured firelogs may be used. It is illegal to burn anything else.

  • Stay clear of structures. Check with your local fire department regarding setback requirements.

  • Stand guard and extinguish. A person capable of extinguishing the fire must attend it at all times, and the fire must be extinguished before leaving it.

  • Ask first. Permission from a landowner, or owner’s designated representative, must be obtained before starting a recreational fire.

  • Mind the ban. Recreational fires are always prohibited during air-quality burn bans. They may also be prohibited during a fire-safety burn ban (check with your local fire district.)

  • Be a good neighbor. It is always illegal to smoke out your neighbor. If smoke from your fire bothers your neighbors, damages their property or otherwise causes a nuisance, you must immediately put it out.

For more information, see the Washington Administrative Code Section 173-425-050(6).

Clean air tip:

Looking for a healthier alternative to that smoky chiminea or fire bowl in your backyard? Check out the variety of patio heaters and fire-pits that burn natural gas or propane, available from home-improvement stores, mass retailers, and many online marketplaces. With one of these clean, efficient units warming your summer evening, there’ll be no complaints from neighbors and no smoke to taint your own star-gazing. And when it’s time to turn in, just turn it off!