What Fire Pits Can You Have in Burlington, Ontario?

What Fire Pits Can You Have in Burlington, Ontario?

Backyard fire pits offer a cozy gathering spot for family and friends, adding warmth and ambiance to outdoor spaces. However, before lighting that first fire, it's crucial to understand the specific rules and bylaws governing open-air burning in Burlington.

This blog will provide an overview of backyard fire pit options and essential safety guidelines, with a particular focus on Burlington's regulations.

Understanding Local Regulations

When considering installing a backyard fire pit in Burlington, understanding and adhering to local regulations is crucial to ensure safety and compliance.

In Burlington, open air burning is a high-risk activity that is strictly regulated, particularly in urban areas.

1. Open Air Burning Restrictions

Urban vs. Rural: In Burlington's urban areas, open air burning is not permitted, which includes campfires, chimineas, and traditional fire pits.

Open air burning is allowed only in designated rural areas and requires a Burn Permit from local authorities.

Disposal of Burn Materials: It is recommended that materials such as brush be disposed of at the Halton Waste Management Site or be mulched as burning should be a last resort.

It is illegal to burn garbage or any petroleum-based products.

2. Exceptions for Outdoor Cooking Fires

In urban areas, while open air fires are generally prohibited, small, confined fires used for cooking on a grill, barbecue, or pit are allowed.

These fires must be supervised at all times, appropriately sized for the food being cooked, and must be extinguished immediately after use.

3. Use of Gas and Propane Units

Devices such as fire tables, bowls, or chimineas that use propane or natural gas are permitted.

These units are favoured because they do not produce smoke or odours, thus minimizing disturbances to neighbours.

However, these are not allowed on balconies of apartment buildings or in areas prohibited by condominium corporation rules.

4. Specific Regulations for Chimineas and Fire Pits

Placement: Chimineas and fire pits must not be placed within 25 feet of any structure. This includes houses, decks, garages, and other potential hazards.

Surface and Size Requirements: They must be placed on a flat, non-combustible surface and must be small and manageable, no greater than three feet in diameter.

Safety Measures: Use of accelerants like gasoline is prohibited, a protective screen is recommended to prevent embers from spreading, and the fire must be attended at all times with a method of extinguishment readily available.

5. Compliance and Enforcement

Non-compliance, such as the emission of smoke that affects neighbours, can prompt an inspection and intervention by the Burlington Fire Department.

This may include being asked to extinguish the fire.

Choosing the Right Backyard Fire Pit

When selecting a backyard fire pit, it is essential to consider both the functionality and compliance with Burlington's regulations. Here are some popular options:

1. Wood-Burning Fire Pits

Wood-burning fire pits are a traditional choice, providing a rustic and authentic experience. However, due to the strict regulations on open air burning in urban areas, these are generally only suitable for rural areas with a Burn Permit.

2. Propane Fire Pits

Propane fire pits are a popular alternative that complies with Burlington’s regulations for urban areas. They offer easy ignition, adjustable flames, and minimal cleanup. Additionally, propane fire pits are portable and can be moved to different locations in your backyard.

3. Natural Gas Fire Pits

Natural gas fire pits are a more permanent solution, often requiring professional installation. They provide a continuous fuel source, eliminating the need for propane tank replacements. Natural gas fire pits are convenient and comply with urban area regulations, making them an excellent choice for many homeowners.

4. Fire Tables

Fire tables combine functionality and aesthetics, serving as both a heat source and a stylish piece of outdoor furniture. Available in both propane and natural gas options, fire tables are ideal for urban areas and can be used as a centerpiece for outdoor gatherings.

5. Chimineas

Chimineas are freestanding, front-loading outdoor fireplaces with a bulbous body and a tall chimney. Traditionally made of clay, modern chimineas can also be found in cast iron or aluminum. When using chimineas, ensure they are fueled by propane or natural gas to comply with Burlington's regulations.

Installation Considerations

Choosing the right location for your fire pit in Burlington involves several considerations to ensure safety and enjoyment:

Proximity to Your Home: Keep fire pits at least 10 feet away from your house and any structures to prevent fire risks.

Wind Direction: Consider typical wind patterns in your area to avoid smoke blowing directly into your home or seating area.

Seating Arrangement: Ensure there is ample space around the fire pit for seating. Built-in or portable benches can offer flexible solutions.

Safety First

Safety is paramount when enjoying a backyard fire pit. Here are some essential tips:

Spark Guards: For wood-burning pits, use a mesh cover to prevent sparks from escaping.

Fire Extinguishers: Always have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand or water nearby in case of emergencies.

Supervision: Never leave the fire pit unattended, especially when children or pets are around.

Maintenance and Upkeep

Maintaining your fire pit ensures it remains safe to use and prolongs its lifespan:

Regular Cleaning: Remove ash and debris from wood-burning fire pits after each use. For gas pits, check connections and burners.

Weather Protection: Use covers to protect your fire pit from Burlington’s variable weather, especially during winter.

Annual Checks: Inspect your fire pit regularly for signs of wear and tear or deterioration.

Ensuring Compliance with Burlington’s Bylaws

To avoid penalties and ensure the safety of your property and neighborhood, it is vital to comply with Burlington’s bylaws regarding fire pits and open-air burning. Here are some steps to take:

  1. Obtain a Burn Permit: If you live in a designated rural area and plan to have an open-air fire, make sure to obtain the necessary Burn Permit from the local authorities.
  2. Check Local Regulations: Always stay updated with the latest regulations and guidelines provided by the City of Burlington.
  3. Safety First: Follow all recommended safety measures, including supervising the fire, using approved fuel types, and extinguishing the fire properly.


Selecting the perfect fire pit for your Burlington backyard can transform your outdoor space into a year-round haven for relaxation and entertainment.

Whether you opt for the traditional charm of wood-burning pits, the convenience of gas models, or the modern touch of propane options, each brings its own unique ambiance and benefits.

Remember to consider local fire codes and environmental regulations to ensure your choice is not only beautiful and functional but also safe and compliant.

With the right fire pit, your backyard will become a cherished setting for memorable moments under the stars.

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