The Tewksbury Fire Department allows the use of chimineas and outdoor fireplaces provided the following conditions are met:
The fire and/or smoke does not pose a hazard to any property;
The smoke does not create a nuisance or health hazard in the neighborhood;
Only ordinary firewood is burned in the chiminea or outside fireplace; no construction debris, leaves, hazardous waste, or chemicals may be burned at any time;
The chiminea or outdoor fireplace is on a non-combustible surface at grade-level (i.e. not on a deck) and is not under any type of overhang, roof, or canopy;
A water supply or fire extinguisher capable of extinguishing the fire is within 75 feet of the chiminea or outdoor fireplace;
and finally, common sense must be used (i.e. a competent adult must be in attendance). The hot chiminea should always be considered a hazard to curious children; hot embers routinely are sent into the air from these fireplaces. A screen should be in place to prevent the embers from igniting nearby guests or combustibles.
If the fire department is called to your house for any type of outside fire, we reserve the right to order any fire be extinguished at the fire officer's discretion.
The Fire Department will not issue a permit for the installation of a new outside furnace that burns any type of wood product or byproduct. We are working with the Board of Health to establish guidelines for these types of furnaces.
In response to inquires regarding the regulation of outdoor fireplaces (chimineas), the legal department of the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal offered the following information in an advisory to local fire departments in August of 2002:
Open air fires are generally regulated pursuant to M.G.L. c.48 s.13 which states in pertinent part “No person shall set, maintain or increase a fire in the open air…except by permission…granted by the Forest Warden or Chief of the Fire Department, or Fire Commissioner “ There is a statutory exception for outdoor cooking. However, the exception is limited to persons eighteen years of age or older, who may, without a permit, set maintain or increase a reasonable fire for the purpose of cooking, upon sandy or gravelly land free from…. vegetation or upon sandy or rocky beaches boarding on tidewater, if the fire is enclosed within rocks, metal or other non flammable material…”
A strict reading of the statute therefore indicates that the exception, is for people over 18 to light cooking fires on sandy or gravelly land or sandy or rocky beaches that are contained in rocks, metal or nonflammable material. Every other outdoor fire must be permitted by the head of the fire department or the Fire Warden.
Chapter 48 s.13 provides that the State Forest Warden (Chief Tirrell) may make rules & regulations relating to the granting and revocation of these permits. I have talked to Chief Tirrell who informs the department that he is looking into the issue of regulating outdoor fireplaces in the near future.
In the interim, if a fire chief believes the outdoor fireplaces to be a condition likely to cause fire, they may issue appropriate orders pursuant to c. 148 s.5 to remedy this dangerous condition, notwithstanding the permit requirements of c. 48 s. 13.