Recreational Fires and Portable Outdoor Fireplaces

South Metro Fire has provided the following information and guidelines for Recreational Fires and Portable Outdoor Fireplaces:

Burn Restrictions and Permits: Our goal at SMFRA is to allow the use of recreational fire and portable outdoor fireplaces while ensuring the safety of you, your neighbors, and our firefighters. For that reason, neither recreational fire nor portable outdoor fireplaces may be utilized during the following times:

  1. When there is a “Red Flag Warning” issued by the National Weather Service.
  2. When the Fire Weather Outlook for the day is "Elevated, Critical, or Extreme"
  3. When there is an open burning restriction issued by a county sheriff or elected officials
  4. During periods of sustained or gusty winds that make the activity unsafe.

SMFRA will issue a permit and conduct a site inspection, free of charge, to any citizen of the district who wishes to utilize recreational fire. The purpose of the permit and inspection is to ensure safety as well as awareness and compliance with all regulations in this document. Recreational fire permits are issued for a period of three years as long as the conditions on your site remain the same, but these permits are not valid during the times listed above.

SMFRA does not issue permits or conduct site inspections for portable outdoor fireplaces, but does require compliance with all regulations in this document (note that clearances for outdoor fireplaces are recommended, but not required). Portable outdoor fireplaces may not be utilized during the times listed above.

Fire Department Notification: Both before and after utilizing recreational fire or a portable outdoor fireplace, please contact our dispatch center at 720-258-8911 and notify them of your plans. This helps to avoid unnecessary emergency responses from neighbors who call regarding seeing smoke or flames.

If the fire extends beyond the area where you intended, call 911 IMMEDIATELY and report it!

Recreational Fire: An outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbecue grill or barbecue pit and has a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.

Recreational fires are required to be a minimum of 25’ away from all combustible materials and structures, including houses, decks, fences, sheds, utility poles, etc. Other conditions which could cause a fire to spread to within 25’ of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition. This could necessitate mowing and watering grass, trimming trees and shrubs, etc.

Portable Outdoor Fireplace: A portable, outdoor, solid-fuel-burning fireplace that may be constructed of steel, concrete, clay or other noncombustible material. A portable outdoor fireplace may be open in design, or may be equipped with a small hearth opening and a short chimney or chimney opening at the top.

Portable outdoor fireplaces do not have a required minimum clearance from structures and combustible materials, but are recommended to be operated at least 15’ away from these things. Portable outdoor fireplaces must be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions at all times.

Attendance: Recreational fires and portable outdoor fireplaces shall be attended by an adult (18 years old, minimum) who has access to a telephone to notify the fire department if a problem develops. This attendance shall be constant and shall continue until the fire is completely extinguished. Means of extinguishing the fire shall be present at all times and shall include at least one of the following:

  • A portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 5 lb. capacity and rated for Class A hazards.
  • A garden hose with a spray nozzle and the valve opened.
  • A 5 gallon bucket of water or sand (with shovel).
  • Tractors or other heavy equipment capable of safely smothering the fire.

For more information, view the SMFRA handout.