When the weather is dreary, we all become something of our own version of pyromaniacs. We want to have big indoor or outdoor fires to stave off the chilly, damp weather that seemingly surrounds us. The bigger the fire, the more warm, homey, and comfy we feel near it. But wait, Texas is in the middle of a five year drought! Don't tell me that just anyone can go out into their yard and start setting fire to stuff, right? Well sort of. Even in the notoriously independent land of Texas, there are rules in place for how you can conduct an outdoor fire that ensures safety for your neighbors and fellow townsfolk.
And What Do We Burn Besides Witches? MORE WITCHES!
LOL, well as our Monty Python quote above denotes, sometimes when it comes to an outdoor fire, people tend to think that they can throw just about anything on the flames. This is not true in most parts of North Texas. Most cities have rules stating what you can and cannot burn. For example, you cannot burn your garbage within the city limits of McKinney, or in areas where the odor will be offensive (such as too close to or downwind of your neighbor's house). You also might be required to have a permit in order to have an outdoor fire. These permits can be easy or hard to come by, depending on where you live, what your city regulates, or even what your Homeowners' Association has to say about it. Another thing to keep in mind is that the police, city regulators, and local fire departments are all going to respond to and take seriously any complaints they receive from your neighbors. It's not just common courtesy, although that does play a huge role. Quite frankly, unless you are pals with your neighbors, you may not be privy to their allergies, sensitivities, or current illnesses that may prevent them from also enjoying your quaint little backyard bonfire. I know that you'd hate to be the cause of another's discomfort, so the best practice is to check with your neighbors first and just let them know what's going on.
Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires
Another obvious concern is any outdoor fires that are left unattended. Most of us remember the ads featuring Smokey the Bear, reminding us of our responsibility to prevent fires from spreading out of control. Just like you never want to flick a lit cigarette into a dry, grassy field, leaving any fire unattended is a HUGE no-no. So often, too often, people light a roaring blaze at night, wait for the fire to die down, and then hit the hay. NO!!! I cannot stress enough that just because your fire isn't flaming, it doesn't mean that the coals and ashes aren't still a fire hazard. I can remember very clearly camping out with friends and not even needing a match to reignite the previous evening's bonfire for breakfast the next morning. The embers were still that hot, even after sitting in the cold overnight. When you're finished enjoying the warm glow from the fire pit, make sure to extinguish your fire using dirt, ashes, baking soda, and/or water. You'll sleep easier, and so will your neighbors, knowing that the awesome fire you enjoyed is not going to catch your yard or house on fire while you sleep.
Burn, Baby, Burn...Responsibly
Outdoor fires can be super fun and can bring family and friends together. We love outdoor fires, and we LOVE to build outdoor fireplaces in which to have these magical blazes. However, we take our responsibility as fellow citizens seriously, and you should too. Make sure to check with your city, county, and/or state to see if there are burn bans in effect, which areas these bans affect, and what stipulations may be in place in regards to what you are allowed to burn outside. It's also a good idea to check with your home builder or fire pit manufacturer to make sure you are burning the correct materials for your specific type of fireplace or fire pit. For example, in some areas, the available firewood types must be burned in alternating cycles to prevent any build-up in your chimney (another fire hazard). As long as you follow the rules and safety precautions, you can enjoy lovely outdoor fires without worrying about endangering yourself or others!