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Recreational Fires and Barbecues

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The Birmingham Fire Department often receives calls from residents inquiring whether or not recreational fires are permissible in Birmingham. In an effort to help answer this growing concern we have attached a portion of the IFC or International Fire Code of 2021 which was recently adopted by the City of Birmingham.

Recreational fires less than 3 ft. in diameter and 2 ft. in height. [Must have 25 ft. of clearance on all sides from structures and combustible materials]

Recreational fires in approved containers [Must have 15 ft. of clearance on all sides from structures and combustible materials]


307.4.1 Bonfires: NO Bonfires without a permit from the Fire Marshal. [Bonfire – Greater than 3 ft. in diameter by 2 ft. in height]

307.1.1 Prohibited Open Burning: Open burning shall be prohibited when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such fires hazardous.  NO burning of leaves, grass, trash (including paper or cardboard), other household waste, construction materials or demolition waste.

307.3 Extinguishment Authority: When open burning creates or adds to a hazardous situation, or a required permit for open burning has not been obtained the fire code official is authorized to order the extinguishment of the open burning operation.

307.4.3 Portable Outdoor Fireplaces: Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet (4572mm) of a structure or combustible material.

307.5 Attendance: Open burning, bonfires, recreational fires and the use of portable outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished.  A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher complying with Section 906 with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose or water truck, shall be available for immediate utilization.

The Birmingham Fire Department will investigate all burn complaints.  A fine of $500 per code violation may be issued by the Fire Marshal if a violation has occurred.  The Birmingham Fire Department reserves the right to extinguish any fires within its jurisdiction that it deems outside approved Department guidelines.

Barbecues / Multi – Family / Balconies

It is the opinion of the Birmingham Fire Department that the use of barbecues and flame producing heaters or other devices on balconies would create dangerous conditions liable to cause or contribute to the spread of fire in or on said premises or structure or endanger the occupants thereof.  The International Fire Code 2021 editions states the following:

Section 308; 308.1.4 Open-flame cooking devices.  Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet (3048 mm) of combustible construction.


  1. One-and two-family dwellings. Most condominiums and apartments are multi-family dwellings (2 or more units in one building).
  2. Where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

This means that balconies and outdoor decks would require sprinkler coverage.

  1. LP-gas cooking devices having LP gas container with a water capacity not greater than 2 ½ pounds (nominal 1-pound (0.454 kg) LP-gas capacity). An example of a 1lb. tank would be a camping tank purchased at a sporting goods store.  However, LP gas cannot be taken into residential buildings or be used above the first floor.

Liquid Propane – Containers shall not be taken into buildings (full or empty).

Occupants who have balconies, roof enclosures, foliage, or extended overhangs will not be allowed to barbecue or use gas fueled devices such as patio heaters, fireplaces, decorative devices, etc.  These persons should have a designated area at grade level which is a safe distance from any structure.

At this time (subject to change) we will continue to allow the use of electric grills or heaters if they meet the following requirements.

  • The grill is kept at the furthest point away from the structure.
  • There is open air above and surrounding the grill or heating device.
  • A hand held fire extinguisher is available for immediate use.
  • There are no combustibles near the grill or heating device.