blog home Premises Liability How to avoid open fire and firepit accidents

How to avoid open fire and firepit accidents

By Ken Gibson on March 25, 2024

My family and I are always ready to enjoy a nice outdoor fire. Maybe it’s my inner caveman, but I enjoy barbecues, oyster roasts, bonfires, and firepits throughout the year.

Fire is a gift, but we all know how dangerous it can be. Every year, thousands of people are injured in outdoor fires and firepit accidents. If you or your friends or family have a firepit or enjoy outdoor fires, follow these tips to keep everyone safe, especially children.

What are the state and local laws about firepits?

Before you invite people over to enjoy your firepit our outdoor fire, you can make sure it’s set up correctly, according to state and local laws:

State law

Virginia has a statewide 4 p.m. Burning Law. From February 15 to April 30, no outdoor fires are permitted after 4 p.m. that are within 300 feet of woodland or grass leading into woodlands. This includes campfires, warming fires, or fires to burn household trash, stumps, or brush.

Local law

City and county laws also regulate fires. You can typically find them online.

For example, Gloucester County has strict rules about disposing of hot coals, ashes, and cinders designed to prevent spontaneous ignition. Coals and ashes must be placed inside a metal container or other type of noncombustible receptacle, and hot ashes can’t be placed within 10 feet of any combustible materials.

How can I make sure that kids are safe around a fire or firepit?

Bad things can happen when kids get too close to the flames. Thousands of children suffer burn injuries every year, and burns are the third .

A major hazard is trip-and-fall accidents near the firepit. Here are our best tips to stay safe:

  1. Talk to kids about firepit safety before the fun begins. Remind kids that there can be no horseplay around the fire.
  2. Make sure the firepit and kids are supervised at all times.
  3. Set strict limits about how close people can get to the firepit, and make sure to set up chairs a safe distance away from the fire.
  4. Carefully check for and remove tripping hazards near the firepit, and make sure there aren’t any slippery surfaces that could cause someone to fall.

How do I set up and maintain a safe firepit?

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s rules when setting up your firepit.
  2. Make sure to place it on a level surface, far away from grasses, vegetation, and other flammable materials.
  3. Make sure nothing is above the firepit, such as trees or overhangs.
  4. Make sure every part of the firepit is made from non-flammable materials, such as brick, concrete, tiles, and metal.
  5. Cover the flames using a metal spark screen with openings that are one-quarter of an inch or smaller.

How do I help people stay safe around a firepit or fire?

  1. Monitor your guests to prevent things from getting out of hand if they are drinking, and make sure the person in charge of the firepit remains sober.
  2. Check local weather conditions, and avoid scheduling firepit activities on windy days or evenings. If there is a small amount of wind, set up your chairs upwind from the fire so your guests won’t be bothered by smoke.
  3. Only burn wood in a firepit. Never use it to dispose of garbage in a firepit. For logs and kindling, only burn hardwoods that are completely dried—this means the wood has had 12 months to dry after being split and stacked.
  4. Never burn any type of wood that isn’t firewood, such as plywood, chemically treated pallets, or fiberboard. And don’t use any type of accelerants, such as lighter fluid, kerosene, or gasoline.
  5. Always have a hose and a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergency.
  6. When it’s time to put out the fire, don’t just pour a bucket of water on it. Instead, gradually spray water on the fire and make sure it’s completely extinguished and all the coals are cold before calling it a night.

Who can help if my loved ones or I are injured in a firepit or fire accident?

If you or your loved one is injured in a fire or firepit accident due to the carelessness of someone else, call us at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. We have helped others who were injured in fires, and we can help you.

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we’re dedicated to helping you get the resources you need to cover your medical bills and other costs, such as lost wages when you are unable to work.

John and I are personal injury lawyers, but we’re also former U.S. Marines, and we consider it our calling to get justice for people who have been harmed by the senseless or wrongful actions of others. We will always serve you and your family with empathy and excellence.

When you put your trust in us, you don’t pay anything unless we win your case. We call it our Zero Fee Guarantee. Call us today at (804) 413-6777 or toll-free at (855) 781-6777 to schedule a free consultation to find out your best options.


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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
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