Chimneys and Outdoor Fireplaces

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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, household trash, 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;
  • The fire must be constantly attended by a competent person until the fire is extinguished;
  • Fires should not be located within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material and any condition that could cause fire to spread within this area shall be eliminated prior to ignition;
  • and finally, common sense must be used. The hot chiminea or fireplace 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. Never use flammable fluids to start your fire.

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.

On January 1, 2015 Massachusetts adopted NFPA 1 with Massachusetts Ammendments.  The new Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code, 527 CMR 10.11.3, provides for permitted outdoor fires.  The Fire Department will not issue a permit for the recreational use of a chiminea or outdoor fireplace.

Open air fires are generally regulated pursuant to M.G.L. Ch.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.“

Ch. 48 s.13 provides that the State Forest Warden may make rules & regulations relating to the granting and revocation of these permits. If a fire chief believes the outdoor fireplaces to be a condition likely to cause fire, they may issue appropriate orders pursuant to Ch. 148 s.5 to remedy this dangerous condition, notwithstanding the permit requirements of Ch. 48 s. 13.

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.