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Backyard Fire Pit Safety

While a backyard fire pit can be a wonderful addition to your home, burning your house down will ruin your day. So before you sit down to roast some marshmallows, we here at Executive Edge have gathered up some local fire prevention regulations and tips to help you keep that fire in the pit (and away from everything else).

City of Merced Fire Prevention Guidelines

  • Merced has some very specific guidelines for burning fires. Backyard fire pits are known as open burns. All open burns require a permit from first and foremost the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. You can find their website Here: You can also call them at 559-230-6000, 559-227-7143. Once you have that permit a secondary permit is required from the City of Merced local Fire Department.

  • Outdoor fire pits must meet certain size requirements. The fire is contained in a fire bowl, chimney or outdoor fireplace that is not larger than two feet (2’) in diameter. A homemade fire container is permitted if it is not larger than two feet (2’) in diameter and one foot (1’) in height. No roaring fires permitted.

  • Be sure you have enough room to build your fire pit. The guidelines state: it must be located at least 25 away from a structure or combustible material.

  • You can read all of the Fire Prevention Guidelines here:

What kind of pit do you want?

  • If you want convenience, a propane model might be right for you. They produce less smoke and have an adjustable flame.

  • You can buy a fire pit or build one. If you choose the latter, there are plenty of resources online to help you design it. Don’t dig a hole just anywhere and throw some rocks down. Put some thought into it and you’ll have a better — and safer — spot to enjoy.Lowe’s has an excellent tutorial for building your own.Check out their yutube video.

Ready to build your fire?

  • First, ensure the area under and around the fire pit is clear of flammable materials. Keep the pit itself the required distance from any structures.

  • Before you start the fire, always have the garden hose close by and ready to use. It doesn’t hurt to have a bucket of water nearby to dump on a small emergency.

  • Choose hard, seasoned woods. Sparks from softer woods like cedar can increase the danger of igniting something nearby.The City of Merced Fire Department told me to NEVER try to burn pallets as they burn very hot and produce a different type of burn.

  • Don’t use liquid fuels, even lighter fluid, to get your fire going. And don’t burn paper, cardboard, leaves, garbage, etc.

  • If you have a metal fire pit, don’t overload it and always use the included safety screen.

Is the fire out?

  • When you’re done, spread out the ashes and let them cool off for a bit. Then gently pour water or sand over them. Stick around for a little while to watch for flare-ups.

We want you to have plenty of nice, warm nights — without getting burned. Here’s to making memories around the fire!



Kelly Spies

Executive Edge Insurance Services

320 E Yosemite Ave Ste 101

Merced, Ca 95340


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