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Warming up with a fire pit? Here are a few things to consider

Warming up with a fire pit? Here are a few things to consider

As the winter season rolls in, the sun sets on hot afternoon barbecues. But when temperatures start to drop, entertaining in your backyard or outdoor area is still possible.

A trending solution to utilising your yard in winter can be easily done with an outdoor fire pit – think of all the roasted marshmallows! There are many options on the market and the one suitable for you will depend on the size and space you have to work with.

There’s nothing quite like huddling around the warmth of a glowing fire with your friends and family. Below, we’ll take you through some of the options that will have you hosting a flaming hot winter party in no time.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

First things first, before you get too excited and start thinking about how great your get-togethers will be with the addition of a new fire pit, it’s important to check your building regulations and with your local council to see if you’re permitted to install and use one.

Building and council codes vary in each area but keep in mind the main concerns of having a fire pit revolve around the following:

  • The distance between your fire pit and the nearest vegetation, residential, or commercial structure.
  • If the smoke from the fire pit will disturb and harm your neighbours.
  • The fuel needed and used to light up your fire pit.

If you’re getting the fire pit professionally installed, it’s important to hire a builder who knows and abides by the local building codes. You’ll find it’s the fastest way to get council approval. But if you’re more of the DIY kind of person, be sure to do all your proper homework, get the council’s approval and assess whether or not it’s viable for you to have a fire pit in the first place.

SAFETY FIRST

Building a fire pit can be as easy as circling stones in your backyard or as complex as getting one designed and built on your decking. Either way, always keep safety first by following the guidelines below:

·     Your fire pit should be at least 3 metres away from any structure or combustible surface. 

·     Your fire pit should be situated on a solid and level surface like stone or gravel. This way it reduces the risk of fire escaping beyond your fire pit.

·     If your fire pit is fuelled by wood, never use gasoline or kerosene to start your fire. Instead, use dry wood such as kindling, ensuring it doesn’t extend beyond the edge of the pit.

  • Always monitor guests while sitting around the fire pit. Make sure there is a proper distance between each person and the fire and don’t encourage any risky behaviour.
  • Never leave the fire pit unattended. Even if the flame is small, monitor it at all times.
  • Have an emergency plan by keeping a fire extinguisher or garden hose close by in case the fire gets out of hand. It you’re unable to put it out quickly and safely, call triple zero.

FIRE PIT DESIGNS 

As more styles enter the marketplace, the days of the old concrete block or rusted drum fire pits are long gone. When choosing a fire pit, you’ll have an abundance of options to consider, including:

  • Permanent in-ground or aboveground fire pits: are made from non-combustible materials such as concrete, fire bricks, or landscaping stones, which will withstand extreme temperatures.

·      Portable fire pits: are lightweight and easy to move from place to place, making them easy to clean and use. They often double as a grill and make cooking over the fire a pleasure for winter gatherings.

·      Tabletop fire pits and fire bowls: are compact, mobile, versatile and self-sufficient. They’re perfect for tables and smaller entertaining spaces like courtyards and balconies. 

·       Chiminea:are hand-decorated terracotta outdoor fireplaces. While some people use them as outdoor decorating pieces, they’ve been used for hundreds of years to warm up the coldest of nights.

Depending on the design these fire pits can be made from a variety of materials such as metal, stone, concrete, brick, glass or copper. They can also vary in size and shapes, as well as the amount of heat they’ll generate.

FUEL FOR YOUR FIRE

The three types of fuel used in Australia’s outdoor fire pits are either wood, gas or biofuel. Which fuel you use to light your fire all comes down to a matter of personal preference and how much warmth your outdoor space requires. Below are a few useful pointers which can help you understand fire pit fuels better:

Wood

Who can’t resist the crackle and scent of burning wood? It’s earthy smell and flickering orange glow can make the most romantic and cosy ambience for anyone enjoying the warmth it exuberates. Although wood produces the highest heat output, it takes a big effort to get the flame going, it can be messy, and it may produce an irritable amount of smoke. 

Gas

There are many strict requirements of gas fuel supply and usage. But if the council only permits you to use gas as your source of fire pit fuel, you must comply.

Biofuel

Biofuel like ethanol has the lowest heat output of all three fuel choices. It has become a popular fuel source for outdoor fires because of its low-maintenance contemporary aesthetic.

SUITABLE LOCATIONS 

For both safety and aesthetics, the positioning of your fire pit needs to be carefully considered. Its fuel source will also depend on where you choose to locate it on your property.

Backyards

If you have a backyard of a decent size, then you’re spoilt for choice. You can choose to have your fire pit built in-ground, portable or a chiminea. If you’re opting for timber as your fuel, you’ll want to consider nearby structures, branches or any other flammable materials such as grass or furniture that are at risk of catching alight from flames and flying embers.

Smaller spaces

If you’re short of space never fear – you don’t have to miss out on roasted marshmallows by the fire! Choose a smaller design that won’t overcrowd your area. A fire bowl, table top or portable fire pit will most likely be the most suitable for what you have to work with. For the fuel source, a smaller space such as an inner-city courtyard or apartment patio is more suited to clean-burning biofuel like ethanol.

Balcony

Although your options are limited, a balcony space can still benefit from a fire pit. Small fire bowls or tabletop fire pits are the most logical options for balcony entertainers. Considering you’ll be heating a confined area, it’s best to opt for gas or a clean-burning biofuel.

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