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Monday, May 12, 2014

Know the fire rules for your favorite Minnesota pastime

Nothing says summer like hanging out in your backyard and having a campfire with your friends and family. Fires are relaxing, a great way to spend time, and legal as long as you know the rules to stay safe. 

Stay safe and keep neighbors happy with these tips:
  • Campfires on the ground cannot be closer than 25 feet to a building or other combustible structure.
  • Campfires in “approved containers” – anything that keeps a fire from spreading – need to be at least 15 feet away from a building or other combustible.  ‘Approved containers’ include outdoor fireplaces, a ring from a metal drum, or a hole in the ground.  Tip: Placing rocks on the ground in a circle is not an approved container.   
  • The maximum size of the fuel area is 3 feet in wide and 2 feet high.
  • Don’t burn rubbish, leaves, grass, or construction material in a campfire.   Use only sawn wood.
  • Make sure to have a way to extinguish the fire nearby.  A charged garden hose would do just fine.
  • A campfire must be attended at all times - don’t leave it to burn out overnight.
  •  If the fire causes obnoxious smoke or odors to others, it can be constituted as a public nuisance and the fire department may order the fire to be put out.

Don’t burn waste without an open burning permit :

Open burning for disposal requires a permit from the Department of Natural Resources DNR.  Many of Saint Paul’s fire inspectors are official “Fire Wardens” for the DNR who can issue open burning permits.

However, an open burning permit cannot be issued if there are other reasonable means of disposal, or if it will create a hazard or public nuisance.  Open burning permits are rarely approved in the City of Saint Paul and most of them are for the controlled burning of vegetation by professionals.

If you need an open burning permit or want to know if your outdoor fireplace is approved, please call the Department of Safety and Inspections at 651-266-8989 or go to the fire department website at and look at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

We want residents to be able to enjoy a beautiful campfire on a nice Minnesota summer evening but it’s important to do it safely - so follow the rules and have a wonderful time.

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