Fire Pit on Wood Decks: Do’s and Don’ts

Placing a fire pit on deck can be risky, especially if you’re unsure about the do’s and don’ts. Before adding a fire pit to your home, it’s crucial to understand the basics. Since open flames come with certain risks.

So, in this article, we’ll discuss the do’s and don’ts of placing a fire pit on a wood deck safely. Also, we’ll give you some outdoor fire pit safety ideas to prevent mishaps.

Outdoor Fire Pit Safety Tips: 9 Essential Do’s and Don’ts


Do: According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire pits like grills, can potentially cause fires in nearby homes or structures. Backyard barbecues result in nearly 10,000 home fires each year. Therefore, choosing a spot far away from anything that can catch fire, like your house, furniture, or overhangs, is essential. You should keep a distance of at least 10 feet from your house.

Don’t: Avoid placing your fire pit next to easily flammable items. Even if it seems far enough, measure and ensure a 10-foot gap, especially on windy days when fire can travel farther.

Protective Surface

Do: Use a fire pit pad to shield your deck from gas, embers, and ash. These pads, made of stone or metal, provide full protection around your fire pit. Always use the stand with the fire pit, even with a pad.

Don’t: Never put your fire pit directly on a wood deck. Heat, sparks, and ash can harm your deck and pose a fire risk.

Spark Screens

Do: Purchase a fire pit spark screen to prevent sparks and ashes from flying. This additional protection keeps nearby items from burning. Keep a poker tool on hand for flame and log control.

Don’t:Avoid having an open flame; use proper accessories to cover your fire pit, especially in windy conditions when sparks can travel.

Additional Layers

Do: Add a few inches of sand at the fire pit’s bottom before lighting. This extra layer enhances protection between the fire and your wood deck.

Don’t: Even with a stand and pad, don’t light your fire without an extra layer. Having sand at the pit’s bottom prolongs the effectiveness of the fire pit pad.

Weather Conditions

Do: Use a gas fire pit on a wood deck during calm weather conditions. Moreover, a smokeless fire pit on the deck won’t pose a threat.

Don’t: Never use your fire pit on deck during windy conditions, especially if your deck is made of wood. Wind increases your deck, house, and valuables risk as fire can easily travel.

Avoid Using Lighter Fluid

Don’t: There’s no need to use lighter fluid in a fire pit. If you’re using dry, seasoned wood, it should catch fire easily.

Do: You can ignite the fire by adding wood to the center. Position your wood so it’s raised, leaving the center empty for air to pass through.

Clear the Deck Area

Do: Before lighting your fire pit, ensure the surrounding area is debris-free. Remove leaves, pine straw, old newspapers, and any other highly flammable materials from the vicinity of the fire pit.

Don’t: Don’t ignore your surroundings. Remember, leaves flying away can also produce sparks, so clear the deck to prevent ashes from entering flammable materials.

Check the Weight of the Fire Pit

Do: Before getting a fire pit for your deck, ensure it’s not too heavy for your deck’s capacity. Familiarize yourself with your deck’s weight limit and the fire pit’s weight. Choosing a lightweight, safe fire pit for wood decks is ideal.

Don’t: A heavier pit can overload your deck and may break it.

Keep Water Handy

Always have a water source nearby. In our backyard, the garden hose and tap are just a second away from the fire pit in case of an emergency. If you don’t have a garden hose, keep a large bucket of water, a fire blanket, or a fire extinguisher close. If, by any chance, the fire starts spreading beyond the pit, immediately douse it with water—better safe than sorry!

Fire Pit Areas Ideas for Safety

Selecting the perfect location for a fire pit in your backyard doesn’t need to be complicated, even if you’re new to outdoor fire pits. Safe areas include your outdoor dining space, an outdoor kitchen area, or near the pool. These areas prevent you from fire hazards and allow you to socialize and enjoy the fire simultaneously.

During the decision-making process, ensure enough space around the fire pit for seating and walking and to account for potential winds. Consider your local climate, especially if your area is prone to high winds, brush fires, or droughts. This might increase the risk of spreading fire.

Typically, a fire pit on deck requires a height allowance of 0-24″, depending on the intended fire size. Avoid placing the fire pit directly under branches, clothing lines, or wires, as out-of-control fires can quickly climb and spread with high winds.

For homes with enough surrounding property, consider placing the fire pit on the side or near a road (front or back). Research zoning requirements in your county to determine the required distance between a roadway or walkway and a fire pit in your yard. Different municipalities have specific fire pit height, width, and distance regulations.

The Bottom Line

Remember, while taking precautions with your fire pit is crucial, having a robust fire safety system in place is equally important. For comprehensive protection, consider installing a Fire Sprinkler System in your home. These systems provide an additional layer of safety, ensuring that in the event of an unexpected fire, there are measures in place to control and extinguish it quickly. At Anchorfire, our Fire Sprinkler System Services are designed to offer peace of mind and enhanced safety for your entire property.