Lavallette officials are considering crafting an ordinance that would regulate the use of fire pits, chimineas and other similar “flame containing” devices.
“It’s all about safety, it’s not trying to prevent them,” said Councilwoman Joanne Filippone, who proposed the discussion of an ordinance among borough council members.
Filippone said that as outdoor fire pits and similar setups have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, there have been some complaints from neighboring residents who say they have been inundated by the smell of burning wood, as well as safety concerns expressed by others.
“They’re nice gathering places for people, but I think because they became so popular, so quickly, they’re getting out of hand,” said Filippone. “I’ve heard some complaints from the oceanfront where embers are flying.”
An ordinance would not ban fire pits in town, but would regulate them. The council is reviewing similar measures passed by Long Beach Township, Manasquan and Medford. Long Beach Township’s ordinance gained the most attention of the three when it was proposed and adopted in 2019. It states that owners must file a permit application that includes the make and model of fire pit, its position on a property and the position of the nearest water hose. The ordinance requires the fire pit to be located at least five feet from a home and 10 feet from a property line.
Filippone said the state fire code mandates any “open flame container” should be 15 feet from a structure, which could mean a home, garage or deck. Some fire pits may require anti-flame matting so the surface on which it stands does not catch fire.
“We need to get a list from the state fire bureau of what’s acceptable,” said Filippone. “And then we have to enforce it. If it’s not on the list of what’s acceptable, it’s not acceptable.”
Borough Attorney Philip George said he would research the state fire codes and ordinances adopted by other communities and have a draft ready for the council by its next meeting.
“I’m hoping that we can come up with an ordinance that primarily talks about safety without being too restrictive so we can have some fun,” Filippone said.
The ordinance is also likely to address rental properties and may require owners to post information on the ordinance and the proper – and legally required – manner in which fire pits may be operated.