The idea of turning your backyard into a camp site and cuddling up next to your very own fire may sound appealing, but it may also be in conflict with Ontario Fire Law. Despite their popularity in homes across the city, outdoor fire places are not permitted for use within the City of Toronto.
The Ontario Fire Code, under Article 126.96.36.199, states that, with few exceptions, open air burning is not permitted and is an offense for which a person can be charged.
What is Open air burning? Essentially any form of uncovered fire construct ranging from outdoor fireplaces (Chiminea) to bonfires to fire pits.
The issue is complicated by the fact that many of these fireplaces are actually sold across the city, despite the fact they are not legally allowed to be used for open air burning.
Now, there are a few exceptions to these rules that homeowners should be aware of:
- Ontario Fire Code 188.8.131.52 does not apply to controlled, confined grills or barbeques that are used to prepare food.
- You are using a fireplace appliance (such as a gas fireplace or fire pit) that is approved* under the Fire Code, intended for outdoor use and is properly installed.
- You have acquired an Open Air Burn Permit (see below).
What is an Open Air Burn Permit?
These permits are rarely shelled out by the city of Toronto, but could potentially be obtained for open air burning activities in exceptional circumstances such as for religious events on private property or special events in a local park or recreational area. Owning and being properly trained in the use of a fire extinguisher is also an important consideration to help improve your chances of being approved.
In order to be eligible for a permit, an application must submitted to City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation and you should expect local fire authorities to survey the site before any permit approval takes place.
Want to get the process started? Depending on the nature of your permit request, you will need to reach out to either the Parks & Recreation Permit Center at 416-392-8188 or your local Fire Service to learn more.
Due to normal city processing times, you should expect to call several weeks or even months in advance of when you anticipate the need for the permit.
*How Do I Know If My Outdoor Fire Appliance Is Approved?
Many of you may be considering gas or propane fueled fire appliances as a permitted alternative to open air burning. You should look for an appliance that is both CSA ( Canadian Standards Association) and ULC ( Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada) approved as products with these approvals are also considered approved under the Fire Code.
Live Outside of Toronto? The Rules May Be Slightly Different
In the city of Toronto, the rules regulating open air burning are quite strict and punishable under Ontario law. If you are living in other areas of Ontario (such as northern or central Ontario) the rules regarding permits and open air burning are a bit more lax. If you are unsure as to the fire regulations in your area, I highly recommend reaching out to your local city officials.