5 tips to keep your backyard fire from getting out of hand

May 23rd, 2018

Kicking back by a backyard fire? Do it safely, says local fire captain


The warm, dry spring has been great for backyard fires, but not-so-great for wild fires, and a St. John's fire captain is calling on people to be careful.

Since forest fire season began 22 days ago, there have been 48 forest fires on the island — nearly three times more than last year at this time.

And Dave Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada said that though the official forecast won't be out until June, it looks like the dry, warm weather will continue. 

That means people using backyard furnaces and chimineas need to be extra careful, says Captain Mike Maher of the St. John's Fire Department.

He joined Fred Hutton on the St. John's Morning Show Tuesday morning to give a few tips on how to do that.

1. Watch the wind.

 If the wind is blowing faster than 25 km/h, Maher said it's best to plan the fire for another night.

2. Keep it away from combustibles.

Maher recommends keeping the fires at least 10 feet away from sheds, houses and patios.

"We don't like to see them on patios," he said, noting that sometimes, if they're too close to a house, siding can heat up and melt.

3. Don't jam it up.

Use just one or two pieces of dry wood at a time, said Maher. Backyard fires shouldn't be used to burn up leaves, garbage and yard debris — that material can be damp, and burning it can cause a lot of smoke which is unpleasant and even unhealthy for neighbours, he said.

4. Prop it up.

Put the fireplace or chiminea on a noncombustible surface, like patio blocks, said Maher, and make sure there are no branches or wires hanging overhead.

5. Keep an extinguisher handy.

Maher also said to make sure someone has an eye on the fire at all times and that a water source or fire extinguisher is nearby, noting that for anyone having a backyard fire, "It is their responsibility to be proactive in following fire safety."

Make sure your backyard fire isn't smoking out your neighbours, says Mike Maher.

Posted on May 23rd, 2018