Fire chief: Use caution around fire pits


Sitting outside on a cool summer evening and unwinding next to a fire pit with an alcoholic beverage in hand may sound relaxing, but it's not a good idea.

To put it quite simply, "alcohol and fire don't together," said York City Fire Chief David Michaels.

While remaining safe and burn-free when enjoying a fire pit might sound like a simple task, Michaels said there is always room to increase awareness when flames are in the picture.

A man from Dover Township was taken to the hospital after falling into a fire pit on Aug. 22, Dover Township Deputy Fire Chief Brian Widmayer said, though he could not release any details surrounding the incident.

"Any time you have an open flame or something burning, it's always a concern to us, safety-wise," Michaels said.

Tips: Michaels said when setting up a fire pit, make sure it's always at least 25 feet from a residence or building and that the flames are contained by — at the very least — bricks and rocks, but preferably a recreational fire pit that has been purchased.

"This is definitely not something you want on a back porch or near your house," Michaels said. "And whenever it's set up, make sure to avoid areas with any types of tripping hazards."

Screens should be used to prevent embers from escaping the contained area, and children should always be supervised. A Shrewsbury girl suffered severe burns in July after trying to roast an extra marshmallow in a fire pit.

"Kids have this tendency to want to get really close to exciting things, and fire can be one of those things, so always keep an eye out," Michaels said.

Staying at a safe distance is key to safety, Michaels said.

"It may sound like common sense, but you don't want to be right up on the fire," he said. "If you stay at a safe distance, you greatly eliminate the risk of getting burned."

Michaels also said to avoid using material other than wood to fuel fires, and never use gasoline or accelerants to start them, and at the night's end always make sure the fire is completely out.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at