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How to Legally Enjoy Open Air Fires in Southern Ontario

Sunny days are a great time to have a recreational fire. What is a perfect summer day without gathering around an outdoor fire, right as the sun goes down? But you may be wondering about the legality of starting an outdoor recreational fire. It’s normal as a homeowner to be concerned about the safety and legality of using your fire pit.

We at Iron Embers want to make sure everyone understands the legal regulations on recreational fires when enjoying their outdoor fire pits. So, we gathered some information on various by-laws for the Wellington County and Municipality of Waterloo region to assuage any concerns.

Disclosure: None of the information presented in this post should be used as legal advice.

What are By-laws?

First, let me tell you about by-laws. Unlike other laws, by-laws are only applicable in the municipality that passes them, and they only cover some areas of jurisdiction. For more information, we recommend looking at the Municipal Act.

Open Air Fire By-laws

How a by-law will impact the use of your fire pit will depend on where you live. Each municipality has different jurisdictions on regulating recreational fires. In some areas they are allowed, in others they are not, and in some you need to acquire a permit. And even those have different requirements.

In local Wellington County and the Waterloo region, each township has different by-laws about starting recreational fires. Some areas such as Kitchener and Mapleton allow for recreational fires if they meet certain conditions. For example, in Kitchener, the location of your fire must be five meters (16.4 feet) from the property line or fence. Other areas like Cambridge and Erin require you to obtain a permit, which varies in cost and time of expiry. The most expensive being Cambridge charging $95.57 for a first-time permit holder which is only valid for 30 days. Wilmot offers the cheapest payment option of $20.00 for a yearly permit.

However, recreational fires are not allowed in the City of Guelph and the City of Waterloo. If you do not comply with the cities by-laws it could lead to hefty fines. In the City of Waterloo, you can get an exemption from the Chief Fire Prevention Officer, who’ll specify when you can light your fire. The City of Guelph only allows for recreational fires if they are being used for cooking and are fully supervised. But roasting marshmallows or hot dogs is explicitly stated as not a form of cooking in the by-law. Luckily, Iron Embers offers the appropriate accessories for cooking with our fire pits.

By-laws by Area

To help you make an informed decision here is a list of the different local recreational fire by-laws and fire permits in Wellington County and the Waterloo region.

Area Recreational Fire By-law Where to Find By-law and Permit Information
Cambridge Permit required, first time fee of $95.57 for 30 days, $74.33 for repeat permits City of Cambridge: Fire Department
Centre Wellington Annual permit required, $27.00 fee Centre Wellington: Applications, Licences, Permits and Policies
City of Guelph Prohibited, unless cooking over a grill (marshmallows and hotdogs do not count towards this exemption) City of Guelph: Outdoor Fire Safety
City of Waterloo Prohibited, can be granted an exemption The City of Waterloo: Open Air Fire Bylaw
Erin Annual permit required Town of Erin
Guelph/Eramosa Allowed, some exemptions may apply Guelph/Eramosa Township: Open Air Burning Permits
Kitchener Allowed, must follow certain guidelines Kitchener: Bylaws at Home
Mapleton Allowed, some exemptions may apply Mapleton: Applications, Licences and Permits
Minto Permit required, 24-hour notice before starting the fire Town of Minto: Minto Fire
North Dumfries Allowed, must adhere to regulations The Township of North Dumfries: Message from North Dumfries Fire Department
Puslinch Annual permit required, $27.00 plus 1.75% convenience fee Township of Puslinch: Open Air Burn Permit (Fire Permit) Application
Wellesley Permit required; time sensitive Township of Wellesley: By-Laws
Wilmot Annual permit required, $20.00 fee, different types of permits available Wilmot Fire Department: Burn Permits

We at Iron Embers want to make sure you have a legal and safe time enjoying your fire pit. We recommend using this information as a starting point to conduct your own research into your municipality’s by-laws concerning recreational fires. While lighting and sitting around a fire is a great bonding experience, we need to make sure to follow proper legal procedures. With that, have a great time with your fire pit!

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Fire Pit Safety: The Ultimate Guide to Playing with Fire

Fire pit safety is a crucial consideration for homeowners and cottagers who look to enjoy their outdoor gatherings while protecting their loved ones, their homes, and the surrounding environment. On summer evenings, the warmth and ambiance of a fire pit are unmatched, and it is a perfect addition to any outdoor space. However, there are some precautions you need to take when setting up your fire pit, maintaining a fire, and extinguishing it, to ensure that you and your guests are safe.

In this comprehensive article, we will look at the various safety measures you should take when using an outdoor fire pit; including the type of fuel to use, keeping a fire extinguisher on-hand, supervising children and pets, and more. By being diligent and practicing these safety measures, you too can enjoy the ambiance of a crackling fire with peace of mind.


Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

Knowledge is power, and a great starting point for understanding what is safe in your setting. Regions or municipalities have guidelines that residents must adhere to when they are burning outdoors, and these bylaws are usually enforced by the local fire department. Understanding your town’s bylaws and consulting with your local fire department is the most important precautionary consideration that you can make.

Reading government articles and weeding through the red tape can be a daunting endeavour, which is why the Iron Embers Sales team is available to help with the bylaw research portion and help you get in contact with the correct local resources.

Some common bylaw restrictions may be:

  • Fire pits may not be within 10’ of buildings, fences, or trees
  • Fire pits must be used for cooking
  • Fire pits must be enclosed with a spark arrester
  • Fire pits must have permits

Once your fire pit is placed and determined to be compliant with bylaws, it is time to consider the safety measures associated with regular use.

A custom outdoor fire pit with a grill and spark screen

Light ‘r Up

You’ve checked your bylaws, set up the firepit, and sent invites to your friends for a backyard party this weekend. Good to go, right? Wrong!

Before your friends arrive to sit fireside, consider these points to keep everyone safe:
Burn only seasoned wood. Seasoned wood is cut firewood that has been dried out to remove as much of the moisture content on the logs as possible. Burning seasoned wood will reduce smoke and make ignition easier.

Build a sturdy structure. Build your fire in a manner that allows for airflow while being stable. A stable structure will not be falling over and sending sparks flying, and the best way to accomplish that is to build a structure just as wide as it is tall.

3 different campfire types

Expert Advice: Campfire Basics Guide

Clean burning only. It is important to use clean ignition sources (matches, bbq lighter, paper, etc…), and to never introduce chemicals, gasoline, or other combustibles to your fire. Not only is this dangerous to humans and pets, but also the outdoor environment. Burning plastics can also release toxic fumes into the air and pollute the ash that is left behind.

Have a backup plan. In case of emergency, have ample water nearby and a shovel to smother an out-of-control fire with dirt. Also know where your nearest fire extinguisher and first-aid kits are located.

Appoint a designated adult. Campfires are often accompanied with friends having a few drinks, or children and pets running around. And that’s okay, there is nothing wrong with having a good time. But make sure that you are drinking responsibly, and that there is at least one designated adult that can keep a clear head and a quick mind.

Logs burning inside a contained fire pit


Shut it Down

Before snuggling into bed at the end of a fun evening of campfire games and smores, never forget to adequately extinguish your blaze. Leaving a fire unattended is irresponsible and dangerous. Complete extinguishment can be accomplished by dousing flames with water, smothering with dirt, snuffing it out, or supervising it until it burns out naturally.

Iron Embers offers a robust collection of firepit accessories to keep your fireside experience as safe as possible. From our grilling accessories that be used without leaning over open flames, to Spark Screens that can keep rogue sparks at bay, and the Steel Lids that can quickly snuff a flame – we have what you’ll need to have a safe and enjoyable experience.


Spread Safety, not Sparks

For kids, nothing can beat the memories made during trips to the lake or overnight camping. Keep their memories positive ones by teaching them early about fire safety. Learning about safe practices has never been easier (or more fun!) than with the resources online at SmokeyBear.com. Visit online today and ensure that the whole family is ready to practice fire safety. And remember that Smokey the Bear says it best, “Only you can prevent (wild)fires.”

Smokey Bear Highlight Reel

And there you have it! Everything that you will need to make your fireside experience a safe one. With a little thought, planning, and sensibility you too can be ready to light up the night without a fright.

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Will it rust? What to expect when purchasing a steel fire pit

One of the most commonly asked questions regarding steel fire pits is, “will it rust” or “how long before this rusts.”

In short, while specially formulated high-heat enamel paints with anti-corrosive agents reduce the rate at which rust forms, you will still likely experience surface rusting to varying degrees over the lifespan of your fire pit.

In this article, we will cover what to expect when purchasing a steel fire pit when it comes to rust.  

What is Surface Rust?

Surface Rust refers to a top layer of red/orange rust that begins to form on steel from exposure to water and oxygen. Most steel fire pits are prone to rust over time from exposure to the elements and regular use. While rust is a form of corrosion, structural damage is dependent on the thickness of the steel and can be mitigated with fire pit maintenance.

At Iron Embers, we utilize industrial quality materials when constructing our fire pits which can be left entirely unprotected and used year-round without risk of structural damage caused by rust. Surface rust will form on the fire pit but will not rust through like comparable low-cost alternatives.

Factors That Cause Surface Rust

At a basic level, rust on steel can be attributed to three main factors;
WaterOxygen, and Time/Use.

Weather is the top contributor to surface rust forming on any outdoor patio furniture made with steel. Consistent exposure to rain or snow will drastically increase the rate at which rust can build up on steel products. 

Similarly, when the protective paint coating deteriorates or is damaged, the bare steel exposed to the open air will oxidize, spurring the development of rust.

Over time, as you continuously use your fire pit, the likelihood of rust forming is nearly unavoidable. It is a natural part of fire pit ownership, but with an industrial quality fire pit, surface rust is a cosmetic issue rather than a structural point of failure and should not be cause for concern.

How to Mitigate Surface Rusting

While there is no surefire solution to fully ensure that the steel does not show its true colors, there are methods for mitigating the rate at which your fire pit might form surface rust.

The number one best practice for avoiding rust is to use a fitted tarp cover to protect your fire pit from exposure to the weather when not in use. By protecting your fire pit with a tarp cover, you reduce the exposure to the corrosive impacts of seasonal precipitation in your area. For best results, only cover your fire pit when the unit and surrounding area are dry to ensure no moisture is trapped underneath the tarp cover.

Alternatively, you can preserve your steel fire pit by moving it to a dry storage area like a garage, shed, or outdoor structure when not in use or during the winter months. 

Removing ash can also have a positive impact on reducing rust build-up. When ash is left in the base of your fire pit, it may retain moisture from the surrounding environment and rust the interior surfaces of your fire pit.

The 10-Year Guarantee and Surface Rust

The Iron Embers offers limited paint coverage related to the initial curing process, completed when you apply heat to the paint for the first time. The Iron Embers 10-Year Guarantee is based on the structural integrity of your fire pit and focuses on Workmanship and Burn-Through.

The Guarantee does NOT provide coverage for any surface rust that will naturally form on your fire pit over time. However, surface rust can be easily maintained with our available touch-up paint and maintenance procedures outlined in the next section. 

Repairing Surface Rust on a Steel Fire Pit

When surface rust does appear on your Iron Embers fire pit, you can easily maintain it with simple tools available at any hardware store. To repair rust from your fire pit, you will use a wire brush or wire wheel to gently pass over the affected area until the bare steel is exposed. Then, ensure the spot is free of steel dust, debris, and moisture before applying a light layer of matte black high-heat enamel spray paint.

Watch our two-minute maintenance video on repairing surface rust >

Zero Tolerance? Explore Stainless Steel Options

Everyone has a different tolerance level for how much rust they are willing to let accumulate on their fire pit. With our 10-Year Guarantee on the structural qualities of your fire pit, maintenance is the most cost-effective solution for Iron Embers fire pit owners when rust begins to form.

However, there is a solution for those interested in burning with Iron Embers but have zero tolerance for rust. While significantly more costly, stainless steel material options can be used to construct any of our standard fire pit designs and are backed by an extended lifetime guarantee. As a result, fire pits built with stainless steel materials are unlikely to show any surface rust and can be left exposed to the elements without concern.

For more information on Stainless Steel fire pits, request pricing by emailing our team of fireside experts at info@ironembers.com.

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How to place your order with Iron Embers

We know that ordering an Iron Embers fire pit is a big decision, and we want you to feel confident that you’ve made the right choice when placing your order. The way we purchase products online greatly influences our experience, and we’re all about creating an excellent fireside experience from day one. Find the best way to shop for your fire pit with Iron Embers by reading this article.


Let’s explore how to shop for a fire pit online and place an order with Iron Embers.


Please note that any direct orders are subject to our production lead times

Online Store

Build a cart and checkout directly on the website


You can complete your entire transaction online, from product selection to payment collection. The online store experience is perfect for shoppers that know what products they would like to purchase and are ready to place their order. 


Note: Online Store orders will be processed as build-to-order purchases and added to our production schedule. For fire pits in stock for immediate pickup, find a local dealer.


Building an Online Order:

Step 1: Visit the Iron Embers website (ironembers.com)

Step 2: Explore the Homepage and Product Overview Pages to find a style of fire pit

Step 3: Select your fire pit size on the Overview Page and click [Shop Now]

Step 4: Click [Add to Cart] on the specific product page to add the fire pit to your order

Step 5: Scroll down or visit the accessories page to shop for fire pit add-ons

Step 6: Click [Add to Cart] to include optional fire pit accessories to your order


Checkout Online:

Step 1: Open your side cart using the Cart Icon in the main menu

Step 2: Click [Checkout] to proceed to the checkout page and review your cart

Step 3: Enter the required billing and shipping information

Step 4: Add an optional message in the Order Notes field

Step 5: Make a selection for Local Pickup or Product Shipping

Step 6: Enter your payment information

Step 7: Click [Place Order] to process your payment


You will receive an order confirmation email upon successful completion of the checkout process. Our team will contact you once your order is complete to arrange a pickup date or confirm that your order has shipped. Customers that have any questions regarding their order before it ships are encouraged to reach out to our office at (888) 575 – 4766.


Build & Price Order Form

Online order builder with one-to-one customer service follow-up


Our custom order form application allows you to plan your purchase before submitting an order inquiry. Once submitted, one of our fireside experts will reach out via phone or email within 2 to 3 business days to finalize your order details. At this point, they can answer any outstanding questions you may have about Iron Embers products and services. Then, once you’re ready to confirm your order, they will provide you with an invoice for payment.


Submitting an Order Form:

Step 1: Visit our Build & Price order form (ironembers.com/order)

Step 2: Select an Iron Embers fire pit style for your order

Step 3: Select a specific size of the style selected in Step 2

Step 4: Add accessories to build your order with a live subtotal

Step 5: Review your order total and enter your email to continue

Step 6: At this point, you will be prompted to submit an order inquiry or proceed to checkout


*By proceeding to checkout in Step 6 the items selected in the order form will be added to your cart as you move into our online store to complete the transaction.


Confirming Your Order:

Step 1: Iron Embers will review your request within 2 – 3 business days

Step 2: A member of our team will contact you to confirm your order details

Step 3: Iron Embers will you email an invoice for payment

Step 4: Once payment is received, your order will be added to the production schedule


Our team will discuss shipping or local pickup options with you before processing the order and contact you again once your order is complete. 


Talk to a Fireside Expert

Contact our team directly at Iron Embers HQ


Our team of professional and courteous fireside experts are available to assist you with any inquiries you may have regarding Iron Embers products and services. We pride ourselves on providing outstanding customer support and ensuring you enjoy Your Fireside Experience with Iron Embers for many years to come.


Our office hours are Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM and closed on most major holidays. Get in touch with the team by phone or email: (888) 575 4766 | info@ironembers.com


Custom Design Projects

Have our designers bring your vision for a fire pit design to life


By starting a custom project, you can work with our team to develop a unique fire feature to fit your vision for your outdoor space. The most common way to personalize your fireside experience is by having text or a simplified graphic laser-cut into the side panel of nearly any of our open bowl fire pits. Alternatively, you can work with our designers to create a one-of-a-kind custom fire pit or select a modification from our ever-growing design library. Get a Quote >


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How to personalize your fire pit with Custom Cutouts


A custom cutout is a fantastic way to personalize your fireside experience. This article will explain how to commission our team to create a fire pit that is sure to make a statement on your patio and express your fiery personality.


At Iron Embers, our team of fireside experts are available at every step of the process to bring your vision into reality with professional engineering software and precise metal fabrication techniques.


What is a Custom Cutout?

A custom cutout refers to a modification made to a side panel of your fire pit during the laser cutting process. As the parts that will become your fire pit are being cut from large 1/4″ steel plates, additional table time is added to accommodate cutting your artwork into the side panel with a precision laser.


Working with a Dedicated Designer

When you’re fire pit is meant to last the next ten years, committing to a custom cutout can feel like getting a new tattoo. Once it’s there, it’s either permanent or costly and painful to replace. 


That’s why our design team works with you to develop a concept that you will appreciate for many years to come (with no regrets). 


When developing your concept for a custom outdoor fire pit, we can mock up layouts that include custom text, silhouettes, and logos (copyrights required). Then, based on your input, a proof of concept will be delivered to you in PDF format via email for approval before proceeding with the production process.


Design fees as low as $99 per panel

Contact Us to Get a Quote >


Options for Custom Cutouts

When planning your custom cutouts, three options can be added to a panel layout. 


Name/Text Cutouts: Choose from available font styles to make a statement with your fire pit.

  • Family Name / Family Initials
  • Cottage / Property Name
  • Personal Sayings / Catch Phrases
  • Commemorative Dates (Weddings)
  • Single Words / Letters / Numbers
  • Compass Directions


Simple Graphics: Complete your fire pit with a personalized view of the flames through a graphic cutout for a simplified silhouette. 

  • Trees / Mountains / Landscapes
  • Forest Animals / Pets / Fish
  • Iron Embers signature Maple Leaf Outline
  • Shapes / Emblems / Icons / Graphics


Logos: Brand a fire pit with your company/personal logo, perfect for commercial settings, events, and sponsored gifts. Please be aware that we uphold creative copyrights when offering these customizations. Therefore, trademarked materials such as sports team logos may not be cut into the side of your fire pit without explicit written permission from the copyright holder.


Choosing a Fire Pit for a Custom Cutout

When choosing a fire pit for a custom cutout, SIZE MATTERS!


Since the customization is made to the side panel of your fire pit, the size, shape, and style of the fire pit you choose will influence the layout.  


Smaller fire pits will have less surface area, which reduces the ability to deliver detailed designs. For example, customizations are not advised with models like the 2′ Polygon Fire Bowl due to the limited surface area.


Medium fire pits are the most popular sizes available and, as a result, the most often customized. For example, our most popular fire pit, the 3′ Octagonal Cottager, is regularly altered with a cottage or family name to take on the personality of its new home.


Larger fire pits offer broader side panels which allow you to add longer messages and detailed designs to your fire pit with more clarity and precision. For example, units with a deep fire bowl like the 30″ Modern Cube gain additional visibility as the cutout acts as a viewing window.


Outdoor fireplaces can also be customized with custom cutouts by adding an additional steel plate to the frame for the customization, typically placed on the door panel or the roof of a Chiminea.


The Laser Cutting Process

During the production stage of your Iron Embers fire pit, we have the opportunity to personalize your fire pit with laser cutting.


Once you confirm your design, we send your design files to our steel supplier, who then cuts the panels with the custom cutout for your fire pit from sheets of 1/4″ steel.


Using CNC laser cutting technology, a focused beam concentrates energy to burn through the steel plate and cut the patterns for parts and custom designs from sheet metal.


Once your custom parts are received, your fire pit will continue through our handcrafted production process. From here, your fire pit is welded, polished, and painted by our team of metal fabrication specialists.


Want to start building a fire pit with a Custom Cutout?

Contact Us to Get a Quote >


Looking for other custom metal fabrication?

Contact our Manufacturing Division >

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