How Not to Use Your Fire Pit

Would you set up a  fire pit on your wooden deck?  Wondering who in their right mind would?  Read on.

For Christmas this year, I got Glop a small, wood burning fire pit so that we could continue our Saturday night tradition of relaxing by the fireplace right on into the spring.  When a beautiful April evening finally arrived, we were both excited to give our new toy a try. He assembled the fire pit and brought it up from the basement.  And that’s when things took a turn for the bizarre.

I had always assumed we would put the fire pit out in the yard, AWAY from the house.  It’s just common sense to put a blazing bowl of fire as far from the porch, deck, and house as you can. I thought a man with a PhD in the sciences from a top engineering school would wholeheartedly agree.  But no.  Glop assured me the fire pit was perfectly safe to use on our wooden deck.  Which is attached to the garage, which is right below the girls’ room.  What?  I defer to Glop’s judgement on many a thing, but this time said absolutely no way.   I quickly found the fine print in the pit manual that reinforced this point.  Online, I found more proof that a fire pit should not be used on a wooden deck.  Over and over was listed the same advice:

“Never place a pit closer than 10 feet from anything flammable, including your house and overhead tree branches.”  – From “This Old House.

“It is important not to use your fire pit on, in or near areas which contain or are made of combustible materials. Dead grass, timber, wood decking, docks and other materials may catch fire. Also, you may cause damage from the fire pit’s metal legs which transfer heat downward from the fire bowl.” – From

I could not believe that none of this information could stop Glop from starting a fire on our deck.  He swore it would be worse to put the pit out in the yard, because dry leaves and sticks littered the ground.  So starting a fire amidst a bunch of plastic Little Tike’s toys was a better idea?  Not to mention our yard “cleanup” earlier in the season had left quite a few dry leaves on the deck as well. Nothing I said or did could convince him that starting a fire on our deck was just plain stupid.

So what could I do?  Sometimes people learn by doing, and I guess Glop is one of them.  As the fear in my heart grew, fueled by the sparks shooting out from the fire pit stationed on our deck, Glop calmly set chairs ’round the fire and poured scotches.  I stealthily unrolled the garden hose and got ready to play fireman. “Just in case,”  I said.  I felt this was all SO STUPID.  I understandably could not enjoy a fireside chat or a good scotch under these circumstances.  I squirmed in my seat as the flames soared skyward toward the garage roof.  All I could think about was the wind picking up.  Terrible scenarios ran through my head.  I was going to be up all night, afraid a stray ember was smoldering in the siding.  I inched my chair further from the fire in as dramatic a display of discomfort as I could muster.

Finally noticing my lack of participation in the conversation, if not my explicit body language, Glop got the point.  Or came to the conclusion I had all along that this was an INSANE idea.  I went inside to check on the girls and came out to find him hosing down the fire pit and the deck.  I grabbed the hose out of his hand and doused the roof of the garage as well.  “Fine,” he said.  “You win.  Next time, we’ll try it in the yard.”

You win?  To me, this was about safety.  To him, this had somehow become about winning and losing.  Too much pride to admit that putting a fire pit on the deck was a bad idea?  Fine.  Either way, I’m glad I won.  My house is still standing.  The fire pit, however, may be featured in the next yard sale.

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