Outside Fires a Concern for the Holiday Weekend

Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 2:35am

City of Madison firefighters responded to four outside fires yesterday, and with the holiday weekend just ahead, the Department offers these reminders regarding outdoor burning:

Campfires are only permitted in approved campgrounds. Madison does not have any approved campgrounds.
Outdoor fireplaces are available through many local department stores. They must be used in accordance with all of the manufacturer's safety requirements and Madison General Ordinance 34.307(4)
Outdoor fireplaces and pits are bowls or pits designed for the holding or burning of wood and shall be allowed without a license, as long as the following conditions are met:
• Fireplaces shall include a bowl with supports to ensure clearances to combustibles;
• Pits shall have an enclosure, heavy screen or spark arrestor to control and contain embers and sparks;
• Fireplaces or pits shall not be used within fifteen (15) feet of a building or lot line;
• Fireplaces or pits shall be used on a stable level surface;
• Fireplaces or pits shall not be used on any combustible deck, porch or patio;
• Only clean, dry wood is permitted to be burned in fireplaces or pits. No trash, yard waste or construction material shall be burned;
• The smoke from the fireplace or pit shall not create a nuisance;
• A fire extinguisher, garden hose or other method of fire control shall be readily available;
• The fireplace or pit must be supervised at all times by a responsible adult. The fire must be completely extinguished before the fireplace or pit is left unsupervised;
• Fireplaces or pits shall not be operated when air quality is other than good or moderate as defined by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR); and
• Manufactured outdoor fireplaces and pits shall be operated in accordance with the manufacturers assembly, safety and operating instructions.

• NEVER use a grill indoors (home, tent, vehicle, etc.). The toxic gas produced by charcoal or gas grilling are extremely dangerous and can kill without warning.
• Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Perform an annual safety inspection prior to the first seasonal use of a grill.
• Never allow children to use the grill. Create a safety zone of at least 3 feet around the grill and place the grill a safe distance from play areas.
• Place the grill at least 10 feet from combustible materials such as siding, decks, tree branches, etc.
• Avoid burns: Use proper utensils with long handles that allow the chef plenty of clearance from the heat and flames.
• Do not wear loose clothing while cooking.
• Never leave cooking unattended.
• Periodically remove grease buildup from the grill surfaces and the trays below the grill so the grease is not ignited by the hot grill.
• Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and accessible.

Gas (LP or propane)
• Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, grease, or other debris.
• Check grill hoses and fittings for cracking, brittleness, holes, scratches, or leaks. Replace as necessary.
• Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. Install a heat shield if necessary.
• If you smell gas when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container check for leaks following the manufacturer's instructions. If you detect or suspect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak has been fixed.
• Use caution when storing LP gas containers. Keep containers upright and do not store them near the grill or indoors. Never store flammable liquids, like gasoline, near the grill.
• LP gas containers should be transported in a secure upright position - never keep a filled tank in a hot car or trunk.

• Make sure charcoal has been completely extinguished before disposing of the ashes and storing the grill - ashes may reignite 48 to 72 hours after use.
• If using a fluid to start the charcoal grill, use only starter fluid intended for this purpose. It is extremely dangerous to use any other combustible liquid to start the coals.
• Never apply charcoal lighter (starter) fluid after the charcoal has been lit.
• Store starter fluid away from heat sources and out of reach from children.


  • Lori Wirth(608) 266-5947