City has guidelines for having open fires

Warmer weather means people will be spending more time outdoors. Sometimes that involves firing up the grill or gathering around an evening fire. Both are popular activities but there are some guidelines to be followed.

The City of Minot adheres to the Uniform Fire Code to establish guidelines for outdoor fires. Recently a Minot man was cited for an open flame violation and fined $75 under the recreational fires guidelines.

Recreational fires are defined as “an outdoor fire, where the fuel or material being burned, is not in a contained incinerator, outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or pit, and is used for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.”

In addition, recreational fires cannot exceed three feet in diameter or be more than two feet in height, such as when in a container. Any fire larger than the guidelines requires a permit and approval from the Minot Fire Department.

The guidelines specify that “no brush, yard waste, or rubbish is to be burned in a recreational fire” and that means of reporting an emergency and extinguishing mush be readily available. Uniform Fire Code guidelines can be found at

“Only untreated wood and branches less than one inch in diameter can be burned, and only when 25 feet from a structure,” said Robby Brown, inspector, Minot Fire Department. “Also no fires are permitted during a fire ban or when the Fire Danger Index is very high or higher. Fires are not allowed if the wind is over 15 miles per hour.”

Recreational fires includes those in backyard fire pits or fire rings.

“We get a few complaints about fires once in a while, such as when a concerned neighbor thinks a fire is too big or too close,” said Brown. “If a fire is not too excessive it is generally okay. Policemen and firemen both have authority to extinguish fires.”

Charcoal and propane grills fall under the “open flame” designation as cooking devices. According to code, they must be located a minimum of 10 feet from combustible construction and their use may be restricted during a declared fire ban.

Outdoor grills are often used on decks at various levels of apartment buildings in the city. Those grills, some of which would be electric, are sometimes allowed by permission of the building owner. Many buildings are covered with fire resistant material and protected by sprinkler systems. The fire code prohibits transportation of propane containers inside an apartment building.

There is a growing variety of backyard fire devices on the market today, including tables that have small fire pits in the middle of them. They are okay, said Brown, if they are UL approved.