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Fire pits prompt burning questions

Fire pit containers have become a new hot topic, prompting a number of calls to both the West Fargo Fire and West Fargo Police Department concerning the legality of using the units.

Assistant Fire Chief Dell Sprecher said most of the calls are from people contemplating the purchase of a fire pit container, asking 'if' and 'how' they can use them properly at their residences in West Fargo.

Sprecher said that fire pit containers with protective screens are allowed to be used within the City limits as long as certain guidelines are followed.

They include that: the burn containment area be no larger than three feet in diameter and two feet or less in height; they have a spark arrester provided (screen for burning); are located at least 25 feet from buildings and combustible materials and attended at all times until embers are out; and a fire extinguisher or water hose is in close proximity at all times when using the units.

As for what to burn in the pits, only small branches and twigs are recommended, not garbage, paper material or leaves.

Sprecher encourages individuals to use common sense. "If it is windy, please wait until it is calm," he said. "Embers carry a long way with a steady breeze."

In that regard, people using fire pits are also responsible for their neighbors property if a fire starts; or if their neighbors are bothered by the smoke which is created from the burning. Sprecher said that all complaints in regards to smoke will result in the fire being put out.

In addressing an entirely different issue, open burning (without a burn pit container or campfire ring) is not allowed anywhere unless a permit is acquired from the West Fargo Fire Department. Sprecher said such fires can only be used for cleanup of natural debris, they are not intended for open campfires or other types of recreational fires.

Sprecher said the West Fargo Fire Department welcomes calls at 433-5380 about any of these 'burning' issues. "Fire can spread fast, especially during dry conditions," he said. "We want to keep it as safe as possible for everyone."