Whether you're roasting marshmallows and weiners, singing along to your favourite music, telling scary stories, or even just staying warm into the wee hours while visiting with old friends, enjoying a fire pit in the backyard is a highlight of any summer night for many Weyburn and area residents.

However, anyone who plans to have an open-air fire pit on their property is required to have a permit, which is issued by the City of Weyburn through City Hall, and it's a one-time fee of $25. It could also be purchased online. Find the application HERE. The permit is good as long as you own your home, or as long as you are renting the home. If you are renting, permission must be granted from the landlord before the permit will be issued. If you move from that property to another property, a new permit has to be obtained.

According to Marc Schweitzer, a Career Firefighter with the Weyburn Fire Department, a fire pit can be no more than 24 inches in diameter, and must be used only for cooking purposes, and only clean wood, charcoal, and briquettes may be used. 

Nobody is allowed to burn garbage, garden waste like leaves, or construction materials within the City of Weyburn. 

"It doesn't matter if you're abiding by every rule, if there is a complaint of someone not being able to breathe or anything like that, then we will ask you to put it out instantly," he explained. "That's also in the fire pit permit guide."

Schweitzer said education is the purpose of the permit, as well as allowing the Fire Department to know who has the legal right to have fires.

"It must be constructed of a non-combustible material or a commercially built product," he said. "You can build your own, and it has to be out of obviously non-combustible material or you can buy one that's commercially built product off a shelf from business."

Since the primary use is for cooking, fire pits must also be enclosed, with a grate on top so no one can fall into the fire pit. Schweitzer noted that a few rocks in a ring do not make a legal fire pit, as the pit must also contain walls to avoid throwing embers at combustibles. 

"You cannot have anything combustible within three metres, or 10 feet, of a fire pit," he said. "That means above it can't have any tree overhanging trees within 10 feet or like a fence, or shed, or a deck, garage, or the house. So it has to be within a minimum distance of 10 feet away from anything combustible."

Additionally, fire pits must be extinguished before calling it a night. 

In his 17-year career here in Weyburn as a Firefighter, Schweitzer said he has been to between 15 and 20 calls to homes due to issues with backyard fire pits, particularly those being left unattended.

"A lot of times it's when people leave a fire going and then just go inside, someone will call that there's a fire in the backyard or something in the pit and there's no one home, or they'll complain about the smoke," he shared. "I've had to go and physically put it out myself, either with their garden hose or our hose."

"There are a lot of unattended fires. It's good practice to always see through that it is extinguished when you're all done."

He added that when someone doesn't have a fire pit permit, or if they are burning garbage, the Firefighters will make them put it out. Anyone who wonders what the rules are can find everything they need to know in the City's Fire Bylaw. Find that HERE.

While most fire pits don't warrant more than a warning from Firefighters, any fines issued under the Bylaw are up to the Fire Chief's discretion.