Chatham Emergency Services Update

By Carey Ruppert -
Chief, Southside Division

The Three Fiery Demons of Home Ownership

As homeowners, three common objects bring great joy and comfort to our everyday life: Fire Pits, Fireplaces, and Barbeque Grills. However, these objects of warmth and enjoyment can rapidly turn into dangerous “fiery demons” if proper safety measures are not followed. In this and future articles, I will give you a few easy and common-sense tips you can follow to keep these demons at bay.

The first of our trio of fiery demons is the wood burning fire pit. Wood burning fires have been around since the Stone Age, and now the fire pit is one of the hottest trends in outdoor entertaining spaces. (Editor’s Note: Please remember, fireplaces that affect the exterior appearance of a home or property, as well as exterior fire pits, rings, masonry grills, and associated integral seating require approval by The Landings Association’s ARC Committee. For more information, please email If you already have or are planning to add a fire pit, here are some important things to keep in mind to keep your cave from catching fire and your friends and family safe.

Fire pits should be located on level ground at least 10 feet from any structure. They also should not be placed under any building overhang such as a covered porch or low-hanging trees. Your fire pit should be located on a non-flammable surface, which means portable fire pits should not be used on wooden or composite decks or grass.

Always check the direction of the wind before you light a fire, and remove anything flammable downwind of your pit. Never use lighter fluid or gasoline to start your fire; instead, use a commercial fire starter stick with kindling on top. Only burn seasoned hardwood and ensure log length is no more than three-quarters of your pit’s diameter. Burning soft woods like pine and cedar can cause popping and result in thrown sparks, and construction material such as plywood can release toxic fumes. For that reason, both should be avoided. Paper products and yard debris also should not be burned in your fire pit.

A fire pit screen made of heat-resistant material such as cast iron or steel helps keep the fire in and keep unwanted objects, such as children, out of your fire pit. Never leave your fire pit unattended, and never leave it burning overnight.

Stone or brick fire pits can be extinguished with water, using either a hose or carefully poured buckets of water. If using a hose, ensure it is set to a spray pattern, as a focused stream can spread burning embers. After extinguishing with water, stir with a shovel and douse again to ensure no smoldering embers remain. It also is possible to extinguish your fire by smothering it with sand.

Manufactured fire pits offer specific instructions for extinguishing a fire. Check ahead of time to see if your manufactured fire pit can withstand a dousing of water, as water can cause some ceramic and metal fire pits to crack. Once the fire is completely extinguished, and all ash and unburned wood are cold, dispose of ashes in a fireproof container. Never put hot ashes in a compost pile, paper bag, or cardboard box.

Even if you apply all the above recommendations, accidents still can happen. It is a good idea to have a bucket of sand and a charged garden hose nearby to deal with wayward sparks. If a situation becomes serious and you need fire assistance, call us (912-355-6688).

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit to read the original article.