Portable fire pits and chimineas add beauty and fun to any yard, but they can also be dangerous, especially around cedar decks. Even cast iron chimineas and fire pits can throw sparks and become a potential fire hazard. Here are a few steps you can take to protect your deck and prevent an unplanned backyard bonfire:
Use fire-preventing accessories. Cast iron chimineas pose little risk of starting a deck fire, mainly because they usually feature spark arrestors at their tops. Spark arrestors are exactly what they sound like: grills that allow smoke to pass through but stop most sparks. Having a clean, functional spark arrestor is one of the best ways you can keep the fire in the chiminea.
Fire resistant pads are another great tool. Pads can be placed directly under a chiminea or around a below-ground fire pit and will catch most stray sparks.
Have a hose or fire extinguisher on hand. This is a no-brainer. You should always have a fire extinguisher or working hose nearby any time you have a fire burning in your yard. ‘Nuff said.
Consider wood types. The type of decking material your deck is made of can determine how flame-resistant it is. Woods with a high density and Janka hardness rating, such as Ipe, are naturally flame resistant. Composite decking is also less likely to catch fire from a stray spark than solid hardwood.
The type of wood you burn in your pit or chiminea also plays a part in preventing a deck fire. Woods such as red cedar and mesquite burn very hot and have a tendency to throw more sparks, so make sure you have a clean spark arrestor and fire pad.
Use deck protectants. For added protection, look into flame-resistant stain and paint additives. These products can be purchased at most hardware stores or online, but can only be added to water-based stains or paints. If you plan on having an open fire pit or chiminea near your deck, it might be a good idea to consider a water-based stain with one of these additives.
Of course, there are many more helpful tips when it comes to fire pit and chiminea safety. Read your chiminea’s safety manual and consult a professional if you have any questions.