The following fire pit safety training video was created for the Depauw University Campus. It covers how to use a backyard fire pit keeping in mind basic safety methods and precautions when creating fires for recreational use.
You should find these tips very useful whether you are a first time or experienced user.
We’re here this afternoon to do a quick tutorial on how to use a fire pit, and emphasize safety of
how we start the fire, maintain the fire, and use the equipment that’s involved.
First off, just the fire pit here has a steel stand. This is a copper bowl. You see the spark screen
that we’re going to use in just a few minutes.
Just some of the equipment that you want to have handy as you prepare to do your fire pit.
A small fire extinguisher is handy to have.
Something sturdy to stir the fire with if you need.
Make sure that you have a bucket of water. This is a two gallon bucket. It’s easier to
handle than a five gallon sometimes so you might substitute or at least have on hand extra
is maybe a bucket of sand also which can be effective in extinguishing a fire.
This handle we use to handle the screen with. Obviously that’s gonna get hot. You don’t
want to touch the bowl, the screen or anything that comes in contact with the fire once the
fire starts going.
It’s very handy to have a good heavy-duty pair of gloves to start with. And you’ll want to
make sure that you use so that you don’t get burnt in being around the fire at all.
Just a couple of other safety points:
You wanna make sure that if you have any loose clothing. For example I’m going to zip this
jacket up because I am going to lean over this a time or two. And I want to make sure that my
clothing is secure. If I had long hair I’d wanna make sure that it was pulled back and again,
prevent getting burnt or singed. It’s easy in a situation like this to get hair singed on your hands
or your arms or whatever.
One of the things that we’re going to use here is firestarter sticks. One of the things you’ll see in
the video here is gasoline. This is only a prop. Absolutely do not ever, ever in any circumstances,
use any sort of flammable fluid to start your fire. These are firesticks that you can buy at any
camping store or Wal-Mart, wherever you may be.
But absolutely no gasoline. Gasoline ignites by fumes. Fumes tend to come up, get on a person
and it’s a quick way to catch yourself on fire. So we’re going to set this out of the way
immediately to begin with.
Again, the firesticks, what I’ve done here is build a kind of a tepee type of configuration with
some small sticks and some bark. I like to use bark as well. It’s a good kindling for fire.
These sticks, if you break them in two or thirds, however many you want to use here. For the
sake of time we’re gonna use a couple of different sticks.
And I absolutely want to make sure that I’m not coming in contact as I get ready to light these
with the bowl, with the fire. I’m going to keep my gloves handy and… start each firestick.
I wanna make sure that I get in a position that I’m not leaning over this any more than necessary.
See that was pretty easy to light. I’m going to move my lighter out of the way.
I’m going to move these other firesticks out of the way. One of the things while we’re waiting on
this to kind of take off here, so we can put some more logs on the fire.
I just want to point out the environmental importance of how you set up your fire pit. You might
notice that we’ve taken some efforts here to make sure that we’ve cleaned the area. That there’s
not combustibles close by.
For example, being in November lots of leaves falling, and we wanted to make sure that we’ve
raked the leaves away from the area so that they don’t become combustible.
If grass was higher in the area that would be considered as well.
So where you set your fire pit up is extremely important.
You also want to look a whether or not winds are gusty. It’s a very, very calm afternoon. Winds
are about five or six miles per hour. We just checked that.
Anyway, we know that we also have the spark screen here if we get to a point where things get a
little bit too breezy.
But you can see that we’re getting a pretty good fire started here.
The kind of tepee method that we used is probably the most simplest for a fire pit like this.
You wanna make sure that you don’t get it too tight. It needs air obviously to ignite the fire and
get a good fire going. And we do have enough air just coming up underneath. How the kindling
is set and we’re starting here with a pretty good fire.
There, I think we’ve got enough fire going now where actually I think it’s best that this is a point
in time that you want to put your gloves on.
And another very, very important thing to remember is there should be one person tending the
fire. You wanna make sure that the people in your fire circle, the group that you’re entertaining
with, that they understand and they know that you’ve talked about what the rules are for the fire.
I doesn’t take much to tip one of these over. If that’s the case it could easily catch somebody’s
pant leg on fire or any other sorts of injuries.
Obviously we don’t want alcohol around the fire. Alcohol will ignite and again, it’s most
important to keep people back away. This copper bowl, whether it’s stainless or whatever it may
be is gonna get very, very hot.
See we’ve got a pretty good fire started here. So, let’s just carefully—again I don’t want to lean
over that so I wanna pay attention to any direction that the wind might be blowing.
Very carefully get a couple logs on the fire here. Just enough for that to get going pretty good.
And you can see that this is where this bowl will come in very handy. Again, it’s gonna get hot if
you leave it in there for very long. So I wanna make sure that we’re using the gloves if we’re
using the pole.
I hope that this will cooperate. There we go.
Another very important safety factor is, again start small. You can see that we’re starting to get a
little bit of a gusty wind so we want to make sure that we’ve got our spark screen handy.
We can use that again stepping away from the fire. This has a little hook on it and it allows us to
put it… over the fire to ensure that sparks and such are not jumping out and, again, catching you
on fire or any combustible materials that might be in the area.
Obviously for a larger fire, once things get going you’ll want to put more logs on the fire.
Again, it’s very important to stop and think about how big of a fire bowl do I have here. And we
wanna make sure that your fire is contained more in the center of the bowl.
It’s not a good idea to stack out towards the outer edges. Again, people tend to like lots of fire.
But you’ve really got a very, very small application here and this isn’t a bonfire. It’s a fire pit.
You want to keep that in mind that we’re not building a bonfire. We’re building the fire pit,
utilizing a fire pit and staying within the constraints of the resources that the fire pit provides.
Anyway, again we’ve got water here. If we decided to put the fire out for some reason, when you
do that you wanna make sure that you’re standing back a way so that rush of smoke isn’t going
to come up in your face.
But it takes a very little bit of water to extinguish that. And maybe in a couple of three small
If somebody would tip this over you’ve got the fire extinguisher here just in case you would need
to quickly extinguish and need something more than water or maybe have two people utilizing
each as a resource to save someone from being injured or starting a larger fire.
We’ve got some other logs here. Again, these are pretty small. You can go a little bit larger than
this but this kind of again keeps the fire, keeps the timber, the fuel for the fire within the size of
the fire pit.
You don’t want to put anything too long in there. Again, if it’s starting to reach up over the sides
or whatever, it’s too long.
So, that’s a little bit small but for the sake of our bit here today, it’s as big as we’re going to use.
We are going to put the cover back over the fire pit. Obviously if you’re cooking, roasting
marshmallows or hot dogs or whatever, again you want to make sure which direction the wind is
coming from, having people stand back away from the bowl so that they don’t lean over into it
and get burnt.
But by using the proper hot dog or marshmallow skewers, again, you’d probably want the screen
off for a situation like that. Always have the screen handy. Always make sure that you have a
tool of some sort that’s made for moving the screen off and on so that you don’t get burnt.
I want to thank you and if you have any questions, always make sure that you check with your
local fire department. Many municipalities have ordinances relative to when and how you can
start a fire.
A lot of times the fire department will come out and inspect the type of setup that you have. So,
again, just be safe. Use common sense, and always unscore safety with your fire pit.