A fire pit can be a below-ground pit, freestanding pit or portable device intended to contain outdoor fires, such as coal grills. The regulations for fire pits are decided by your local government and therefore vary by location. Check with your local government when building a fire pit. Some general standards do apply in most places as far as safety regulations and commonsense rules.
Below-ground fire pits should be at least 25 feet away from structures and combustible materials such as trees, decks, cars and sheds, and also charcoal lighter fluid, gasoline and kerosene. They should be at least 4 inches deep and surrounded by a wall of non-combustible material, such as steel, brick or cement. The below-ground pit should be no more than 3 feet in diameter or more than 2 feet in height. A freestanding fire pit should be located at least 10 feet away from structures and combustible materials. A freestanding pit should always include a spark-resistant screen, and the screen should always be able to fit comfortably on top of the pit.
Fires should not be started in a fire pit on a windy day when smoke can become hazardous or a nuisance for others nearby. Materials that cannot be burned in an open fire include flammable or combustible liquids such as alcohol, or lumber, pallets, tree trimmings, leaves, yard waste, cardboard, garbage and other odor-emitting objects. This list of items might be different in different municipalities. Only small pieces of natural firewood, about 2 feet in length, are permitted to be burned. Police or fire officials can request a fire be extinguished if it does not adhere to the local regulations or if the fire is offensive to neighbors or other people nearby.
The fire should always be supervised by at least one person over the age of 18 until the fire is completely extinguished. A portable extinguisher should always be on hand, such as a hose or a certified fire extinguisher, to be used if the fire becomes uncontrollable. A screen should always be able to fit over the fire comfortably in case someone must place the screen on the fire in an emergency. Children and pets should be kept away from the fire and watched carefully by an adult, even hours after a fire, because the pit stays hot long after the fire burns out. No one should wear flammable materials, such as nylon, or loose-fitting clothing around the fire.