Fire pits can be a fun and enjoyable outdoor addition to a condominium, homeowner (HOA), or townhome community association. However, it is important that board members, property managers, and unit owners are aware of the potential safety concerns that come with firepits.

Below are seven potential areas of concern relative to fire pit safety, and some best practices to ensure your association is protected.


1. Distance from Property: Fire pits should be placed at a safe distance from homes, other structures (i.e., sheds, decks, playground equipment, covered shelters, fencing), and combustible materials (i.e. trees, wood piles, patio furniture, compost) to reduce the risk of a fire spreading. The exact distance required may vary depending on local building codes and village ordinances.

For example:

  • The Village of Gurnee, IL states that “recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material (includes wood fencing).”
  • The City of West Chicago, IL allows for exceptions including “fires in approved containers that are not less than 15 feet from a structure.” However, “the minimum required distance from a structure shall be 25 feet where the pile size is 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height.”
  • The City of Indianapolis, IN has open burning requirements for fire pits that include placement of “the container at least 15 feet from any structures, trees, or other objects that may catch fire.”


2. Fire pit types: Generally, there are two types of fire pits: in-ground and portable. Firepits utilize different types of fuel (i.e., propane, wood burning, gel). In some municipalities, a permit may be required before installing an in-ground fire pit. The allowed size of a fire pit may depend on local ordinances and regulations.

Before using portable firepits that utilize propane fuel, be sure to check any applicable municipal ordinances and consult with legal counsel, as some municipalities prohibit the use and/or storage of propane or similar combustible liquid fuels within certain buildings.


3. Flammable Materials: It is important to ensure that any materials placed near a fire pit, such as furniture or decorations, are not easily flammable. In addition, it is essential to keep flammable liquids or materials away from the fire pit, as they can easily catch fire.


4. Fire Suppression Equipment: If the fire pit is in a common area, compared to a unit owner’s private property, the community association should have fire suppression equipment, such as a fire extinguisher or garden hose, on hand and readily available, in case of an emergency.


5. Firepit Signage: Specific signage required for a fire pit in the common area of a community association may vary depending on local ordinances, rules and regulations. Such regulations may include requirements for posting information on when fires are allowed, how long they can be burned, and any restrictions on the size or location of the fire pit.

Some common types of required signage may include:

  • Warning Signs: Warning signs can be placed near the fire pit to remind residents of the potential risks associated with fire pit use. These signs may caution about the risk of fire, the need for proper ventilation, and the importance of not leaving the fire unattended.
  • Use Guidelines: Signs may also be used to provide guidelines for the safe use of the fire pit. This may include information on the types of fuel that are allowed, how to properly light and extinguish the fire, and rules around the use of chairs and other flammable materials.
  • Emergency Contact Information: In case of an emergency, it may be helpful to have signage that provides contact information for local emergency services, such as the fire department.
  • No Smoking Signs: To prevent the risk of accidental fires, it may be necessary to post signs prohibiting smoking in the area around the fire pit.

Overall, the signage required for a fire pit in an association’s common area should be designed to promote safe and responsible use of the fire pit while also addressing any potential risks or hazards.


6. Weather Related Warnings: Weather-related warnings are important for the safe use of fire pits. Associations should be prepared to address and enforce regulations regarding fire pit use during the following weather conditions.

  • High Winds: High winds can increase the risk of fire spreading and can also cause sparks or embers to be carried away from the fire pit.
  • Dry Conditions: Dry conditions can increase the risk of fire, especially during periods of drought or dry weather.


7. Rules and Regulations: Board members, property managers, and unit owners should have a clear understanding surrounding fire pit usage. The association’s governing documents should address various concerns related to fire pit usage, including issues such as the following:

  • Safety and conduct policies
  • Permitted types of fire pits
  • Firepit placement
  • Waiver or release requirements
  • Hours of permitted use
  • Food and beverages
  • Required signage
  • Guest accessibility
  • Capacity


Legal Resource

Along with fire pit safety, associations should be aware of issues that may arise from other open flame sources, including: BBQ grills, smokers, outdoor fireplaces, and open burning (i.e. leaves, paper, wood waste).

By taking these safety concerns into consideration, a community association can help ensure that fire pits are a safe and enjoyable addition to the community.

Contact our law firm if you have questions regarding local ordinances, rules, or restrictions pertaining to fire pits, or if you need assistance in preparing rules and regulations for your association to address fire pits.

You can reach KSN by calling 847-537-0500 or visiting our website at


Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. Additionally, we represent clients in real estate transactions, collectionslandlord/tenant issues, and property tax appeals. We represent thousands of clients and community associations throughout the US with offices in several states including Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.


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