Gathering around a fire is communal. Stories, warmth, marshmallows, and memories can be enjoyed with a small flame. However, the City of Fort Collins is asking you to consider your neighbor.

Outdoor fire pits are not banned by the city, but certain neighborhoods have their own rules. The problem is that smoke and odor generated from outdoor burning can negatively affect some of the most sensitive populations such as the young, the elderly, and people with heart or lung conditions, like my son with asthma.

In March 2019, the City of Fort Collins Council adopted a new nuisance code language to address the health and nuisance impacts of wood smoke.

Air Pollution Nuisance Code Requirements Effective March 29, 2019

  • Outdoor wood burning fires must be at least 15 feet from adjacent property lines
  • Wood burning fires must be extinguished by 10:00 pm

If you want to have a fire...

Here are some tips to reduce the likelihood of unintended negative impacts on others:

  1. Talk to your neighbors prior to having a fire.  If your neighbors have concerns, brainstorm options to address their concerns (e.g., if, when or where you have your fire).  See the conflict resolution tips in the FAQs below for suggestions.
  2. Place your fire pit/basin/apparatus at least 15 feet from any combustible surface or structure and at least 15 feet from any property line.
  3. Burn only clean, dry, seasoned wood (leaves, branches, grass clippings, yard waste are not allowed).
  4. The total fuel size (wood pile) must be 3 feet or less in diameter, and 2 feet or less in height.
  5. Have sufficient airflow to allow for efficient burning.
  6. Never leave your fire unattended and be able to react appropriately should an issue arise.
  7. Fully extinguish the fire with water by 10:00 pm.

If someone's fire is negatively impacting you...

People can have portable wood burning fireplaces or portable fire pits in their yard, but they need to follow fire safety and smoke nuisance rules. Here are some tips:

For Nuisance Related Issues (e.g., excessive smoke or odor, time of day of the burn, distance to property line) 

  1. Know what's allowed and what's not, which can help when talking to your neighbor or submitting a complaint.  See the conflict resolution tips in the FAQs below for suggestions.
  2. If you feel comfortable doing so, talk to your neighbor about your concerns.
  3. If resolving the issue with your neighbor is unsuccessful, make a formal complaint online through Access Fort Collins or call the Nuisance Hotline at (970) 416-2200. An actionable complaint should include as many details as possible but at a minimum include the following, if known:
    • The address of the source of smoke
    • The time that you noticed the smoke
    • Note if the smoke is from an outdoor fire pit or indoor fireplace

For Non-Emergency Health and Safety Related Issues (e.g., distance to combustible surface, type of materials being burned, size of fuel source)

  1. If you have a non-emergency health or safety concern about an active fire, call the non-emergency dispatch line at (970) 221-6540.
  2. For emergencies, call 9-1-1.
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