How To Put Out A Fire Pit

Bill Taylor
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General Safety

Gathering around a warm fire pit or barbecue is a time-honored tradition which often served as the centerpiece of a community gathering, whether this be a formal gathering or simply a friendly get together. It is a tradition thats remains not only cherished, but in many instances continues to be enjoyed.

Yet many are either unaware, or simply ignore, the very real potential hazards these activities can pose. This can have devastating consequences when something goes wrong – as it is usually just a matter of time. The fact that people are often more intoxicated by the social ambiance and merriment than they are by the alcohol they may have consumed only exacerbates the dangers of these activities.

As you can imagine, many unsuspecting people have sustained life-threatening, and in some cases, fatal injuries in these types of accidents. Some of the most common injuries include burns, cuts, and frayed electrical wiring, but these incidents also pose a very real potential for far more devastating injuries, including being burned alive.

The truth is that these injuries and deaths are avoidable and unnecessary. In fact, using a bit of common sense and following a few simple guidelines can make the difference between a great time around the grill, in the yard under the stars, or at the tailgate party and a tragedy.

Where Should A Fire Pit Be Placed?

The ideal location for a fire pit is on a level area of ground with no underground utilities, no flammable trees branches, and no overhanging tree limbs. The ideal area would have a buffer on non-flammable materials a minimum of 10 feet. A buffer of this distance will provide a fire barrier from the flammable landscape and help prevent the escape of embers.

Fire Safety: This type of structure produces temperatures and sparks that can easily ignite surrounding objects or materials. They can also easily capture the attention of children and pets. A fire problem is entirely possible and if you are not careful, can quickly become an addition to your next “to fix” list. It may be a little hard to believe that something as pleasant as a fire pit could cause problems, but they have been responsible for house fires. Consideration to the home and environment surrounding the site is a must.

The area of your backyard that the fire pit occupies will ultimately determine the size and the material you will need to purchase for the pit. The fire pit location should be in an area that is level. Be sure the area is free of flammable vegetation within a 10-foot radius. Also, it is helpful to have a fire extinguisher nearby for safety.

How To Put Out A Wood-Burning Fire Pit

It is ultimately up to you to decide how you’d like to put out your fire pit, but one of the most effective ways to put out a wood-burning fire pit is by covering it with sand. The sand helps to smother the flames, preventing any residual fire from re-igniting.

For most, sand seems like an obvious solution, but if you keep a close eye on your fire pit, it is easy to get distracted and forget about putting it out. Wood-burning fire pits can sit safely extinguished for up to three hours without being tended. This means that it’s essential to remembering to extinguish your fire pit before you go inside for the night.

By the time you realize you’ve forgotten to put out a fire pit, it could be too late. If you’re a forgetful person, the best way to prevent this from happening again is by having a fire extinguisher near your wood-burning fire pit or having an outside first-responder to extinguish the fire when they see it. Either way, knowing how to put out a fire pit in an efficient manner will ensure your fire pit stays extinguished.

How To Put Out A Fire Pit With A Snuffer Cover

If you have a metal fire pit, the first step in putting out a fire is to cover the pit. This prevents burning trash from falling into the pit from the grate. At the same time, the cover also traps any heat and ash built up inside the pit.

The cover for the fire pit should be airtight and just a little bit larger than the pit in the center. Excessive air in the cover will make it hard to seal. First, create a small hole in the center of the cover that is about one finger wide. Then, using a tool like a screwdriver, wiggle the tool back and forth until you hit the center of the grate. Repeat this process once or twice to create a larger hole.

Now you can either use a metal snuffer or a long-handled shovel to push the burning embers up into the cover. Since the hole in the cover is so small, you will push the coals up into a compact pile near the center of the hole.

Once the coals are sandwiched within the tines of the snuffer or shovel, cover the end of the tool with a metal lid or heavy plate. The lid transfers the heat from the inside of the cover through the tool and allows you to press the burning coals together.

Repeat this process until all the coals are sealed within the cover.

Can You Leave A Fire Pit Burning Overnight?

If you want to prolong the enjoyment of your outdoor fire pit, it is important to be able to put it out correctly. You can’t just let the fire burn out, as it could cause a fire hazard. The key to putting out the fire is to remove as much heat as possible in a minimum amount of time. The following instructions will help you put out a fire pit safely every time.

Inspect the fire pit for any leftover embers. Once the fire has burned through, it is likely that some hot embers have fallen through the grate. Look for them underneath the grate and remove with a shovel.

Using water is your best option to extinguish the fire. It removes the heat in the most efficient manner. Use a hose and aim it directly at the flame. Make sure to spray from an area that is on your side of the fire pit, so that the water does not splash over into your lawn. Be sure to only spray for 2 to 5 seconds. Too much water will cause the embers to be extinguished too quickly and prevent the heat from escaping from underneath the grate.

Spreading the embers will make it easier for them to cool. Use the shovel to scoop out any leftover embers from underneath the grate and gently spread them throughout the fire pit.

General Maintenance

As long as you keep the fire pit clean and covered when not in use, it will serve you for many years. Fire pits are constructed of different materials and require different basic maintenance. They typically require more frequent cleaning if they have a mesh screen on top.

Fire Pits with Mesh Top

Mesh tops are the least expensive fire pits on the market. Their mesh design keeps sparks and embers contained within the fire pit. The mesh also prevents kids and pets from falling into your fire pit. There are three main types of mesh top fire pits.

These fire pits require detailed cleaning, including:

  • Vacuuming the ashes out of the mesh
  • Cleaning the fire pit body and the mesh screen (problematic if mesh is enamel coated)

Gas Pit

Can you make a Gas Pit Burn hotter?

Yes, this is probably one of the most common questions asked, and rightfully so. Fire pits are one of the coolest ways to gather with friends, have some fun and game some food over the flames. Now I know my answer to this question will be a cliffhanger for some, Is it possible to make a gas fire pit burn hotter?

But over the past couple of years my answer to that question would be, NO. There is no way I know of to get a fire pit to burn any hotter than it is designed to burn especially if it is a standard propane fire pit.

Because gas fire pits are not a controlled burning source. Natural gas is bi-products of oil and crude. Propane is also a natural bi-product but more hazardous.

Propane is a flammable gas stored in tanks for use with gas fire pits. It mixes with outside air 30% to 80% depending on the temperature and pressure and burns very well.

When it burns, it is changed into different gases according to the following formula I found on Wikipedia:

C3H8 + 8 O2 → 3 CO2 + 4 H2O

The items you use to burn will determine how hot your fire pit will get.

Final Thoughts

So there we have some of the most common lighting effects used when playing with fireworks. Hopefully they've been helpful to you when learning about the different effects they can have on different occasions.

Always remember that if you are learning about fireworks and still deciding if you want to buy some to play with, you should use a little common sense. It may seem like fun to play with them but what seems like a great idea when you're on a high from drinking alcohol can leave scars on your entire body.

The more you learn about fireworks and the less worried you are about what can happen. That is the time that you have decided you can have fun with them. But before you do, be sure you make a list of what you know, try and Google some of the things you don't.

Have fun but be safe.