So, you want to roast a marshmallow over an open flame, but you weren’t able to book a campsite for the summer? It may be tempting to burn some fallen branches and newspapers as kindling on the dirt patch by your back fence but, not only is that risky, it could get you in real trouble.
Within the limits of the city of Edmonton, a fire pit must be built to meet certain regulations in line with the Community Standards Bylaw. There are width and height limitations, and it must be fully enclosed with a grated lid and be made of brick, concrete or heavy-gauge metal. There are also city-mandated restrictions on what you can burn (only clean, non-treated, dry wood or charcoal), so as not to create too much smoke or release anything toxic. This is to ensure your neighbours with potential allergies aren’t affected. As well, the City requires you to keep the noise down, so large backyard bonfire parties are not usually tolerated.
If it seems daunting, don’t worry – Amanda Roettger from Rockland Supplies St. Albert gave us a few tips to keep in mind to make your fire pit construction go smoothly.
First and foremost, make sure to check on any active fire bans in the city before you strike a match. Roettger also recommends following the city’s bylaw restrictions, even though people often don’t obey; she says the fines aren’t worth the risk.
“I think probably the most important thing, then, would be that your area is level. You don’t want to put your pit on something that is slanted… You don’t want to take that chance that it’ll topple while it’s burning, potentially creating a grass fire or worse, injuring someone,” Roettger warns. Once you’ve got a safe area, stacking cinder blocks or properly excavating a pit in the ground are the easiest routes, and there are pre-assembled kits available with all the materials needed.
She recommends stacking your pit walls so that several gaps appear between the bricks, or create small holes in the concrete material. This allows extra air to get in closer to the heart of the fire, which will help reduce that blazing heat you feel as you’re warming your hands or feet on the edge of the pit.
Add some sand as a foundation for dampening the blaze inside the pit (any old sand will do), and you’re good to go. Enjoy your backyard campfire all summer long – just remember to make sure the fire is fully out before you go inside!