Outdoor Fireplaces & City Zoning

If you are like thousands of other Ontario residents and love the idea of having an outdoor fireplace on your property, it’s important to educate yourself on the rules and regulations in your area before you have one installed. The laws are different depending on where you live, and not all fires are considered equal. Here is some information that will help, as well as tips to stay within the rules. 

The Ontario Fire Code   

Article of the Ontario Fire Code states that open-air burning is not permitted and is actually an offence that can lead to you being charged. The definition of open-air burning is any type of uncovered fire construct that can range from a standard bonfire to a fire pit to an outdoor fireplace or chiminea. There are a handful of exceptions to these rules, such as controlled or confined grills and barbecues that are being used to prepare food, approved appliances like gas fireplaces and having a proper permit. 

Outdoor Fires in the Golden Horseshoe 

As mentioned above, the rules and laws may differ within local municipalities, and here are some of the specifics for Hamilton, Niagara Falls, St. Catherines and Burlington. 

Hamilton – According to bylaw 02-283, open-air burning is only allowed in areas that have been designated as rural, and you are only allowed to burn clean wood and brush. You can apply for a permit and if you receive one, there will be restrictions on the size of the fire and information about the importance of supervision and how to extinguish the fire properly. No one needs a permit for approved outdoor appliances like barbecues, grills or gas-powered appliances. 

Niagara Falls – In Niagara Falls, open-air fires are not permitted, unless they are being used for the purpose of cooking food. The size of the fire must be in line with the amount of food that’s being cooked, the fire can’t create a public nuisance and there must be a physical barrier around the fire at all times. The regulation also states that outdoor fireplaces and chimineas can only be used for cooking food.  

St. Catherines – Like Niagara Falls, residents of St. Catherines are only permitted to burn an open fire for cooking food, which includes chimineas and outdoor fireplaces. There is a minimum $250 extinguishment fee for anyone that does not comply with the bylaw. 

Burlington – In Burlington, an open-air burning permit is needed for any type of open-air fire, including outdoor fireplaces and chimineas. There are restricted areas in Burlington when it comes to burning each time a permit is issued, a fire inspector will visit to ensure the site doesn’t pose a danger to the public 

Round stone fireplace

Outdoor Fireplaces and the Fire Code   

If you want the ambience of a fireplace without having to think about the regulations and bylaws of open-air burning, a natural gas or propane fireplace is a good choice. These appliances add a significant amount of style and function to your yard, but without any of the issues associated with a real fire.   

If your heart is set on a traditional outdoor fireplace, a covered version is worth looking into. It will give you the look and feel you want and may still be within the rules of your particular municipality. 

Getting an outdoor fireplace will create a welcoming outdoor atmosphere. At Stamford Fireplace, we have outdoor fireplaces that follow the Ontario Fire Code, so you are sure to feel warm and safe while enjoying your fireplace.