Guide to owning a fire pit in NZ
Fire serves as a welcoming focal point for social gatherings and bringing people together. There’s something very special about sitting around a crackling flame and relaxing with friends. And while fire pits have always been popular, they’ve never been more attainable. Now you can order and enjoy a fire pit in a few days without needing to be a DIY expert. There are many types of fire pits on the market, varying in size, style, and functionality, and whatever type you choose, it is likely to become one of your favourite evening hangout spots.
Fire pits can also be used for multiple purposes. From adding a decorative touch to your home to keeping guests warm and cooking food. Choosing the right fire pit for your home comes down to three key factors; functionality, style and size.
To help guide you through the process of owning a fire pit, we’ve created the following tips and considerations to ensure you get the most out of your new fire pit.
Choosing the right type of fire pit
Fire pits come in a variety of styles, fuel types, and shapes. With so many available it can be tricky to find one that perfectly suits your needs. To help narrow down your choices, here are a few common decisions to make before you start your search:
- Gas or wood-burning?
- Freestanding or built-in?
- Metal or concrete finish?
- Portable or fixed?
- Square or round?
- Cooking plate or heating only?
- Built-in wood storage or separate?
- Cheap or premium?
- High or low?
Once you’ve answered the above questions, you’ll be closer to finding the perfect fire pit for your needs.
Finding the right location for your fire pit
When choosing the location of your fire pit, you should take a number of practical factors into consideration. Building regulations set out by your local council will dictate where your fire pit can and cannot be situated in your backyard, so it is important to check those first.
Another factor when choosing a location for your fire pit is available space, as well as how it will be enjoyed. Flames are hot, so making sure you have enough room around your fire pit to sit comfortably is important. You should also keep in mind prevailing winds when choosing the location for your fire pit. You want to make sure all guests can enjoy the fire pit without excess smoke spoiling the night. Consider having at least 3 metres of space around the fire pit to enable people to sit at a distance that is comfortable for them and make sure there is at least 4 to 5 meters clearance above the fire pit.
Fire pit safety
As you consider installing a fire pit, it is important to make sure it is as safe as possible to reduce the risks associated with it. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you, your family, and your surroundings are fire pit safe:
Keep your fire pit a safe distance from buildings and foliage
Both the location and flooring material below the fire pit can make a big difference in increasing safety. Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommend not lighting your fire within three metres of any building, hedge, shelterbelt, or other combustible material.
Be prepared for the unexpected
In case your fire gets out of control, it is important to have a plan in place which includes a suitable way to extinguish it. Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommend having a garden hose (if wood burning) or a fire extinguisher within five metres of your fire pit. It’s important that multiple people know the procedure and process for extinguishing a fire pit, should the need arise.
Be aware of fire restrictions
At certain times of the year, (mainly during the summer months) areas around New Zealand can see fire bans put in place. It’s critical that fire pit owners adhere to these restrictions. If you're unsure of restrictions in your area, head to checkitsalright.nz and use their online tool to find restrictions and permits needed specific to your situation.
Don’t leave your fire pit unattended
Fires can get out of hand quickly, something Temperature Master highlights in their research. The average speed of fire is 9.6km per hour when it’s in a forest and 22.5km per hour when it’s in grassland. Meanwhile, the embers themselves can spread as far as 40km away from the fire at the speed of 25km per hour. That is some scary speed and can be caused due to open fires being left unattended. Fire can spread quickly and unexpectedly in numerous ways, so the best way to avoid this is to keep it under as much control as possible and that means not leaving it unattended.
When you're finished - put it out!
Properly extinguishing a fire pit is just as crucial as not leaving it unattended. Once you have finished using your fire pit, make sure that it is fully out before you leave it. This also means making sure all the embers are no longer producing heat. Embers have the potential to cause an uncontrollable fire when given the chance, especially if oxygen feeds the fire and the wind blows in the right direction. In fact, some of the world’s largest wildfires were actually spread by embers.
Here are some tips to ensure your fire pit will be safe after you leave it:
- If possible, let the wood burn to ash first.
- If you know you’re about to leave, stop fueling the fire for at least an hour beforehand.
- Spread out any remaining wood chunks.
- Using a bucket of water, douse your fire with it, making sure that the embers have been extinguished.
- Lastly, check your pit’s temperature and its surrounding area.
Maintaining your fire pit
As fire pits are situated outdoors, it pays to make sure yours is protected from the elements. During the summer months, fire pits are used more frequently, but by protecting them when they're not being used, they'll last longer. This is where a cover comes in handy. It is easy to put on when not in use and just as easy to remove. Within a couple of minutes, you’re able to fire it up and enjoy the ambience well into the night, while also keeping it protected when not in use.
During the winter months, the fire pit may be used less frequently. Covering your fire pit will reduce the damage done by the elements but, if possible, moving it into a shed or garage can further protect it from damage.
Cooking on your fire pit
There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying the warm flame of an open fire cooking marshmallows. But why stop there? Many fire pits come with a grill for you to cook on, but specialist cooking fire pits offer something with a bit more of a wow factor.
Fire pits with hot plate edges offer an immersive cooking experience while ensuring even heat distribution. The addition of a hot plate enables the frying of eggs, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, as well as your classic grilled food. It also removes the exposure of food to a naked flame, which can dry out some types of meat as the juices are lost more quickly.
With increased focus on outdoor living, fire pits have grown in popularity. Unlike other outdoor heating sources, a fire pit can provide 360 degrees of heat to your entertaining area, providing a comfortable and relaxing environment all year round.
If you’re still on the hunt for the perfect fire pit for your home then check out our fire pit. Its 360-degree hot plate with a laser-cut drip catcher makes it ideal for cooking with the whole family. In-built wood storage ensures the logs are never far away, and the all-weather cover keeps this fire pit protected all year round. Learn more about the Trendz Outdoors fire pit by downloading the free digital brochure.