It doesn’t have to be the middle of Winter to dust off the firepit and enjoy gathering around the flickering flames. There is something magical about relaxing outside, being mesmerised by the slow and rhythmic dancing of the flames and everything that accompanies a backyard firepit. Whether you are singing songs, cooking up a storm, socialising or just sitting quietly, the positive effect firepits have are far reaching.
Next time you are looking for a new outdoor activity which the whole family can enjoy, consider a backyard firepit.
Before using a firepit in your backyard please check local laws and adhere to them, including total fire ban warnings in your area.
Brisbane Firepit Legislation
The first step, before purchasing a firepit, is to check the current, local legislation in your neighbourhood pertaining to fires. Every council has different iterations of these laws, so please ensure you are reading the current documents pertaining to your area and check back regularly, as these rules can change.
One of the main things to be aware of is the required distances of the firepit from buildings and flammable items, as well as consideration of your neighbours in regards to smoke and fumes originating from your firepit.
- Brisbane City Council
- Moreton Bay Regional Council
- Ipswich City Council
- Logan City Council
- Redland City Council
Brisbane City Council Firepit Trial in 2020
Amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 Brisbane City Council held a three-month trial, permitting the safe use of firepits in backyards. The trial was a success, and now, given residents follow the required rules, firepits can be used in residential backyards.
Considerations Before Purchasing a Firepit?
Before you lash out and purchase your very own firepit, here are a few things to consider:
- What are the firepit laws in your area?
- Do you have a suitable space for a firepit in your yard?
- What do you plan on using the firepit for? Warmth, cooking, decoration?
- What sort of fuel will you use? Charcoal, ethanol, gas, wood?
- What size and style of firepit do you want?
- Where will you store your firepit when not in use?
- Will your firepit be a permanent feature?
- Is there someone you could borrow a firepit from (a friend or neighbour)?
Where to Put a Firepit?
Finding a suitable place for your backyard firepit is one of the most important factors when installing a firepit. If you place it too close to buildings and other potential fire hazards, not only could you cause a serious fire, but you could also be breaking the law.
Firepits should be at least 2.5m from any buildings, property boundaries, low overhanging branches and other vegetation. Some councils require this distance to be greater: Moreton Bay Regional Council requires fires to be at least 6m from property boundaries and buildings, while Logan City Council require fires to be at least 10m from buildings and property boundaries, but always check the guidelines for specific distances in your area. We stress again that councils can and do change their rules and seasonally it is not uncommon for total fire bans so make sure you check your local council website first.
Once you have found the perfect place to house your firepit, you should also give some thought as to what goes underneath and around it. Firepits should be off the ground, with an ashtray or similar underneath, to prevent ashes coming into contact with the ground.
Consider your neighbours too, when positioning your firepit, nobody wants their washing to smell like smoke, or their kids to be kept awake all night.
Not all firepits are created equal. Your individual needs, designated space, budget and intended usage will impact which stye of firepit best suits your needs. And again, check your local laws on firepits before purchasing one. Current options on the market include:
- Portable firepits
- Smokeless firepits
- Firepit tables
- BBQ firepit
- Built-in firepits
Wherever there is fire there is an inherent risk, and as such, safety around a firepit should be forefront, especially if children are involved. Now is a good time to make sure you have procedures in place to avoid accidents and know how to deal with emergencies should they occur.
- Check you have an up-to-date first aid kit
- Have a hose, or at the very least, a bucket of water nearby, in case of an emergency
- Brief family members (age appropriately) on what to do in case of an emergency. Do they know how to dial emergency services? (Get our tips on how to teach your child to dial 000 here)
- Revise what to do in case of burns or scalds.
- Position your firepit in a suitable place, away from buildings and low hanging trees
- Always maintain supervision of the firepit and guests
- Discuss fire safety with children, including not running close to the fire and keeping their distance.
- Ensure all fires are distinguished appropriately with water when not in use.
For detailed information on Outdoor Fire Safety and a host of other helpful resources and fire safety information visit Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.
Activities Around Firepits
One of the joys of having a firepit is the fun activities you can do around it. Activities around the firepit are a great way of creating family memories and enjoying screen-free time. Here are some fun things you can enjoy around a firepit (or a campfire).
Music – Lighting a fire seems to bring out hidden musical talents among guests. When you are around the firepit stretch your vocal cords, dust off the musical instruments or perhaps just bring out the speakers and have a singalong. It doesn’t have to be anything structured or fancy, just relax and let the melodies come forth. Do be considerate of your neighbours though, and either ask them to join in or keep your mini rock concert to a dull roar.
Storytelling – As night falls and the embers flicker let your creativity flourish and tell some stories. Perhaps you can tell spooky stories, stories from long ago, funny stories or even just relay memories from yesteryear. If you are stuck for ideas try a collaborative approach to storytelling. One guest starts the story with a sentence or two and moving around the circle each guest adds their own sentence or two. You will get quite a giggle out of how your story evolves. If you are still not feeling the love, then don a headtorch and read a book out aloud.
Meals – Kids (and parents) often get sick of mealtimes at the same table, so mix things up and take your meal outside and have it around the firepit. Kids will love the novelty of eating off a plate on their knee and parents will rejoice in not having to clean up the crumbs off the floor after the meal.
Food – Just like a campfire, firepits can be used to cook some awesome treats. Keep it simple or go all out, but whatever you do, make sure you try a spot of cooking when you next have the firepit cranking. Before you cook up a storm make sure the type of wood or coal you have is suitable for cooking and get some accessories (tray, racks, grills, long tongs etc). Some of our favourite things to cook over the flames include:
- Bananas with Mars Bars (wrapped in foil)
- Rustic toast
- Toasted marshmallows
- Kabana on a stick
- And anything else you usually grill.
Additional resources and information pertaining to firepits, and their safe use can be found at: