Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  “What are the rules for outside fires?”

A:  Guidelines for Recreational Fires

 Outside Chiminea & Fire Pit Safety

 Persons eighteen years of age or older may, without a permit, set, maintain or increase a reasonable fire for the purpose of cooking or recreation, upon sandy or gravelly land free from living or dead vegetation or upon sandy or rocky beaches bordering on tidewater, if the fire is enclosed within rocks, metal or other nonflammable material. These pits can be hand-made or store bought. We prefer it have a screen to keep embers from flying out.

 Area – Conditions that could cause a fire to spread to within 25 ft (7.6 m) of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.

Make sure that the fire pit is placed away from other materials that could burn or catch fire, both overhead and to the side, such as tree branches, sheds, awnings, clothes lines, fences and plants.

 If devices produce too much smoke and is deemed a nuisance by the Fire Department. The Fire Department can order the fire to be extinguished.

 Reasonable Fire– Keep the fire small and manageable. Sizes vary, but fire pits 2 to 4 feet wide and 18 to 20 inches deep have found to be reasonable. A larger pit runs the risk of producing too much smoke and embers thus making it a condition likely to cause a smoke condition or fire spread requiring enforcement of extinguishment.   

 Burn clean fire wood- Never use wet, damp, or “new” wood. This creates needless, irritating smoke. The expectation is to be burning size appropriate wood that you would burn in your fireplace or wood stove. Large logs, trash, leaves, furniture, construction debris and other refuse are prohibited by law.

 Placement – Recreational fires shall not be located within 25 ft (7.6 m) of a structure or combustible material unless contained in an approved manner.

 Fire Attendant – Open, recreational, and cooking fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person until such fire is extinguished.
The person shall have a garden hose connected to the water supply or other fire–extinguishing equipment readily available for use.

Q: “What should I do to keep my home safer this winter ?”

A: This fall,

  • Have your furnace/boiler cleaned and serviced by a licensed oil burner or gas technician.

  • Chimneys should be cleaned, especially if you burn wood in a wood stove or fireplace. Chimneys should also have a screened rain cap to prevent rain, snow and animals from entering the flue.

  • If your oil or gas furnace/boiler has a direct vent, make regular checks during storms to make sure the vent is free from accumulated snow or debris.

  • Cleaning leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts will prevent ice buildups during freezing weather.

  • Candles should be on a flat surface in a noncombustible holder of glass, metal or ceramic. Candles should never be left unattended. Many major fires in our area have been started by unattended candles.

  •  Carbon Monoxide detectors should be installed near heating units and on the level of the bedrooms.

  • NEVER EVER use a gas oven to heat a room.

  • Keep space heaters away from upholstery, drapes, newspapers, magazines and other combustibles.

Q: “Can I use a kerosene heater, if I keep a window open?”

A: Unvented, liquid fueled space heaters are illegal to own or use in residences in Massachusetts. They create large quantities of Carbon Monoxide; an odorless, colorless gas that can cause death when inhaled in sufficient quantity.

Q: “I am selling my house and the realtor told me I have to have a smoke detector certificate from the fire department. How do I get one ?”

A: All houses sold in Massachusetts must pass a smoke/carbon monoxide detector inspection by the fire department before the property closing. (MGL 148 s 26F) Your house number must also be on your house, visible from the street.

To get a certificate, call (781) 293-9571 and ask for an inspection. Before you call, check your smoke detectors to make sure they work, and make sure your house number is clearly visible from the street. See the “Fire Prevention” page for details on where smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be located.