Secondhand Smoke - In the Backyard

Friday, May 21, 2010 - 5:25am

Fire pits and open burning in the City's backyards have been the topic of an increased number of calls and emails to the City of Madison Fire Department in recent weeks.

It's important to remember that open burning of any kind without a permit obtained from the Department is strictly prohibited within City limits.

The City does allow for the use of fire pits and Clay fireplaces (Chimineas) - but with specific conditions:

1)The fireplace must be an assembly that includes a bowl or pit for holding the wood, a method of containing embers and sparks, and supports to ensure clearances to combustibles. The fireplace must have a set of user instructions.
2)Only dry wood is permitted. If anything other than dry wood is used, the Fire Department may respond and extinguish the fire and a citation may be issued.
3)The fireplace cannot be used within 15 feet of a building or lot line.
4)The smoke cannot create a nuisance (i.e., for other properties, travel, or the health of others).
5)The fireplace cannot be used on a wood deck, porch, or patio.
6)A fire extinguisher, garden hose, or other method of first aid fire control must be readily available.
7)The fireplace must be supervised AT ALL TIMES by a responsible adult. The fire must be completely extinguished before the fireplace is left unsupervised.
8)All spark screens must be in place.

Clay fireplaces (Chimineas) must meet all of the requirements listed above for outdoor fireplaces as well as the following:
1)Must have a spark arrester on the flue and a spark screen to cover the opening.
2)Do not use within (4) four feet of any combustible materials or in high winds.

Those are the written rules, but the City of Madison would like to encourage all residents to reach across fences and lot lines to ensure that these recreational fires are not creating a nuisance or health hazard to neighbors with respiratory ailments.

In addition, please remember if the Fire Department receives a complaint, they will respond and can, at the discretion of the Fire Officer, extinguish the fire &/or issue a citation for any violation of the above conditions.

  • Lori Wirth, (608) 266-5947