Before You Start
If you are planning on including an open-flame apparatus in your yard, such as a fire pit, outdoor fireplace, chimney or chimenea, it's important to know the rules to ensure your safety and enjoyment, as well as your neighbours'.
Please note: Propane fire tables DO NOT require a fire pit permit.
Residents must ensure proper safety precautions and regulations are followed and consideration is given to nearby properties when burning an open-air fire. A fire containing device on private or public property in Medicine Hat must be approved by the Medicine Hat Fire Service or it is not allowed.
In order to obtain a fire pit permit, you are not required to have a development permit or building permit.
LocationA fire containing device must:
- Be positioned in a back yard only, not in a front yard or a side yard.
- Be positioned at least 3 meters (10 feet) from any property line, house, garage, fence, deck, shed or any other permanently installed or hard-to-move structures (i.e. benches, play structure etc.).
- Be positioned at least 3 meters (10 feet) from any trees, branches, shrubs, plants or other materials that may catch fire.
Be positioned at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from a gas line. To obtain the location of gas lines under your property, contact Alberta One Call or call 1-800-242-3447. This is a free service.
- A fire pit should not be located on or near your gas line, as noted by your gas line locate. The result could lead to a serious safety hazard or explosion, requiring emergency services assistance and a costly repair bill.
- Distance requirements apply to both horizontal and vertical directions.
Gas Line Locate
A copy of your gas line locate must be included with your application.
To obtain a gas line locate for your property, contact Alberta One Call at 1-800-242-3447.
Construction & Design Rules
Fire containing devices must be constructed and designed as follows:
- The base of any in-ground fire pit must consist of sand, gravel or concrete.
- The fire must be enclosed in a fire container made of rock, concrete block, metal or cured and fired ceramic/clay.
- The fire container must have an inside measurement no larger than 90 cm (3 feet) in diameter or linear length.
- The fire container must be at least 45 cm (1.5 feet) in height.
- A metal mesh screen or "spark guard" is required on all openings of a fire containing device, to reduce the spread of embers and sparks. The openings in the mesh screen must not be more than 1.24 cm (1/2 inch) across.
Using Your Fire Pit
Regulations for safe use of your fire pit or other fire containing device include:
- A fire must be supervised at all times by a competent adult.
- Must only be used for warmth, or cooking food for people.
- Any seating around the fire containing device must be fire-resistant and easy to move.
- There must be a way to put out a fire nearby (no more than 9 meters or 29.5 feet from the fire containing device).
- Options are a watering hose, or a container of water or sand (at least 20 litres or 5 gallons).
- Only burn clean and dry firewood.
- Do not burn garbage, yard waste, furniture, construction materials, rubber, plastic, tar, or wood that is painted/treated.
- Do not start any fire outdoors if there is a fire ban in effect.
Information for Renters
If you are not the owner of the property where you wish to install a fire pit or other fire-containing device, then you must have the owner's consent to apply for a permit.
Obtain a written letter from the property owner expressing their consent for a fire-containing device and include the property address, date, your name, their name and their signature.
Include this letter of consent with your application.
1. Read and understand to the Terms and Conditions as stated above.
2. Draw a diagram of your property, showing the following:
- Proposed location of fire-containing device
- Distances from property lines, structures, trees etc.
3. Contact Alberta One Call or call 1-800-242-3447 to schedule a line locate.
- A copy of your gas line locate is required for the application.
4. or use QR Code
Please note: Beginning June 1, 2020, Fire Pit Permits will expire every 5 years.
To renew your Fire Pit Permit, please call Fire Services at 403-529-8282 and ask to speak with a Fire Prevention Officer.
Air Quality: Air quality is everyone's concern. If a Special Air Quality Index statement has been issued due to wildfire smoke, please choose not to have an open-air fire in your backyard.
Smoke: Smoke from fire pits can cause adverse health effects in some people. Before using your fire pit, familiarize yourself with optimal wind conditions and take precautions to prevent smoke from disturbing your neighbours.
- Check the weather and consider wind speed. Outdoor fires should not be built when the wind is greater than 15 km/h.
- High wind speeds may send smoke long distances or pose a fire hazard
- Low wind speeds won’t easily disperse smoke and can contribute to poor air quality
Nuisance smoke from outdoor fires can negatively affect the health of some people. Respectfully communicate with neighbours around you who may be adversely affected by open-air fires in the neighbourhood. Consider letting your neighbour know when you plan on having an outdoor fire in your backyard, as they may appreciate being notified in advance.
Accidental fires: It is mandatory to place a metal mesh screen on top of a fire pit (all openings of a fire containing device). This helps reduce the flame size and helps prevent sparks and embers from escaping and causing damage.
Disturbance: As with all backyard gatherings, be aware of the amount of noise you are making and be sure to follow the Community Noise Standards bylaw. Quiet hours are between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday and between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. on Sundays and Holidays.
Community Noise Standards Bylaw (PDF)
Condos: If your property is part of a condominium, you must make sure that your proposed fire containing device is allowable within the condo bylaws. If you are not sure, check with your condo board.
These guidelines represent the minimum requirements concerning the installation and use of fire containing devices such as fire pits or chimneys.
Requests for further information can be directed to the Medicine Hat Fire Department at 403-529-8282 during regular business hours.
Fire Services thanks residents for their cooperation.
Together, we can make sure everyone enjoys the outdoors, safely.