Recreational Fire Pits & Bonfires

Recreational fires are those that are typically found at single family homes; essentially a campfire generally attended by a small number of people vs. the bonfire scenario that we would see at a college or church where there could be 50 people or more.

Bonfires at multi-family, commercial, assembly; or institutional buildings are required to obtain a permit. This can be obtained from the Palatine Fire Prevention Division. You can contact them at 847-359-9029.

Please note: Village requirements for outdoor fires can be found in the 2009 edition of the International Fire Code, section 307.


  • Open burning fires that will be offensive or objectionable because of smoke or odor emissions when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such fires hazardous shall be prohibited. The Fire and Police Departments are authorized (Nuisance Law) to order the extinguishment of any objectionable recreational fire.
  • The location for open burning fires shall not be less than 50 feet from any structure, and provisions shall be made to prevent the fire from spreading to within 50 feet of any structure. Exception: Fires in approved containers that are not less than 15 feet from a structure.
  • The wood pile size shall be 3 feet in diameter or less, and 2 feet or less in height.
  • Open burning fires, recreational or bonfires shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. On site extinguishing equipment shall always be available for immediate use.
  • Manufactured fireplaces are allowed provided they meet the required size limits of 3 feet in diameter or square and 2 feet in height. Fireplaces must be screened and have a lid to prevent flying embers. Home built fireplaces will require a building permit.

Fireplace Safety Tips

  • Keep safety your first consideration. When using an outdoor fireplace, fire pit or fire bowl never leave unattended. The wind can suddenly increase or shift direction, children or pets can unexpectedly bump into something or fall on to the pit. Never allow children to play with the fire materials.
  • Select your firewood to minimize smoke. Burn clean cut wood only. Well seasoned hardwoods such as Oak and Hickory produce less smoke than unseasoned wood or softwood. The burning of plant material in any form, construction material in any form is prohibited.
  • Start with a small fire. The first time you use your outdoor fireplace or fire pit, use minimal fuel. Learn how your outdoor fireplace or fire pit draws air, how it responds to changes in wind direction, and how long it burns before you need to add more wood.
  • Use the protective covering. If your outdoor fireplace or fire pit comes with a protective cover, use it to shield you outdoor fireplace or fire pit from the elements.
  • Use the screen. Most outdoor fireplaces and fire pits have mesh screens. After the initial flames have died down, place the screen in front of or over the fire. This will help control sparks and burning debris.
  • Be prepared to extinguish the fire. Always keep a hose, water supply, sand bucket or fire extinguisher with in reach when using your outdoor fireplace or fire pit. At the end of the evening you will want to be sure your fire is completely out before leaving your outdoor fireplace or fire pit.
  • Be courteous to your neighbors. Check with your neighbors, they may have a medical condition that could be severely affected by the smoke from your fire. If wind conditions exist that can blow the smoke into their homes, refrain from burning or relocate the fireplace to a different area.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the information in the pamphlet, can be directed to the Palatine Fire Prevention Division at 847-359-9029.