Building and Condo Maintenance

Summer Grilling: Remember Chicago Regulations on Fire Pits and Grills

Burger on grill

It’s officially grilling season in Chicago. And, while thousands of BBQs are executed without any mishaps every year, it’s important to be aware of the numerous regulations around fire pit and grill safety in Chicago. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in hefty fines and other penalties, as well as the risk of fire and injury.

Chicago Rules on Fire Pits

According to the City of Chicago’s website,

  • All outdoor fires must be contained in a “portable outdoor fireplace.” This means that open pits and ground fires are not permitted.
  • The fire pit must also be placed at least 15 feet away from any building or combustible material. This includes things like fences, decks, and trees.
  • All disposable or temporary fire pits must be used on a non-combustible surface, such as asphalt, concrete, or gravel.
  • The size of the fire pit should be no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet tall.
  • No plywood, lumber, pallets, or any other garbage can be burned.
  • No open fires can be had on days with wind over 15 mph due to the risk of fire spreading.

Additionally, here are some general tips that will help you have a safer and more enjoyable fire pit experience:

  • Only use dry, seasoned wood in your fire pit.
  • Don’t use accelerants, like gasoline, to start or maintain your fire.
  • Never leave your fire unattended. Make sure to have a water source nearby in case of emergencies.
  • When you’re finished with your fire, douse it with water and stir the ashes until they’re cool to the touch.
  • Dispose of the ashes in a metal container with a lid. Do not put them in your garbage can as they could start a fire.
  • Check the condition of your fire pit regularly and make sure there are no cracks or damage that could cause problems.

Chicago Regulations on Heaters and Grills

Here are some regulations related to grilling to be aware of:

1. The storage, handling, keeping, or using of any liquefied petroleum gas for any purpose is not permitted inside or in any covered outdoor area of any building or structure with an occupant load exceeding 20 persons. If you’re caught breaking this rule, you could be fined up to $500.

2. You can only grill in designated areas in Chicago parks. Grilling is not allowed on the parkway or in the playlot.

3. You must have a permit to grill in a Chicago park. Permits are available at the park office or online.

4. You can’t grill within 10 feet of a building in Chicago. This includes both residential and commercial buildings.

5. You can’t use an open-flame grill on a wooden deck in Chicago. If you’re caught using an open-flame grill on a wooden deck, you could be fined up to $500.

6. You can’t leave your grill unattended in Chicago. If you’re caught leaving your grill unattended, you could be fined up to $500.

General Grill Safety Tips

Here are some additional tips that, while not necessarily codified in the law, are key for grilling safety:

1. Keep the grill clean. A build-up of grease and debris can be a fire hazard.

2. Inspect your grill regularly for any damage, such as cracked or loose parts.

3. Don’t use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a fire in your grill.

4. Be careful with lighter fluid. Use only enough to start the fire, and never add it to an already lit grill.

5. Keep your grill away from combustible materials, such as trees, buildings, and deck railings.

6. Supervise children around the grill at all times.

7. Never leave a lit grill unattended. Extinguish the fire before you leave.

8. Be prepared in case of a fire. Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand near the grill.

9. In case of a grease fire, do not try to put it out with water. This will only make the fire worse.

10. When you’re finished grilling, make sure all the coals are extinguished before you leave.

Association Governing Documents

As always, it is of critical importance to check your Association’s governing documents to ensure you’re adhering to rules pertaining to fire pits, heaters and grills. Violating such rules could lead to hefty fines and/or put other member residents in danger.

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