Map Monday: Can I Have a Recreational Fire in Minneapolis?

Fire in Standish. Image from Star Tribune.

Minneapolis should probably ban recreational fires given the air quality impacts. But folks have an affinity for “the cabin” and fire may actually be linked to the evolution of the human brain, so I understand the interest.

There are a number of rules governing recreational fires in Minneapolis, one being that a fire must be at least 25 feet from a structure or combustible material. Below is a map that identifies the parcels eligible for a recreational fire based on Minneapolis’ structure data.

This data has a glaringly gap: Minneapolis does not distribute (or even collect?) the location of fences. The myriad wooden fences in the city would further restrict open burning. Without fences in the analysis, 68 percent of parcels are allowed to have a fire.

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10 Responses to Map Monday: Can I Have a Recreational Fire in Minneapolis?

  1. Sean Hayford Oleary
    Sean Hayford Oleary May 14, 2018 at 10:11 am #

    Great map! Looks like most of the area where burning is allowed per the city rules are multi-family or commercial parking lot areas, where it’s unlikely to be done. Seems like even without accounting for the fence issue, the vast majority of single-family lots can’t support a fire.

    I’m curious what qualifies as a “structure” or combustible material. Are only wood fences out? PVC privacy fences OK? Chainlink?

    In Richfield, there are different sets of rules for permanent fire pits versus smaller portable fire rings. Permanent also follow 25′, but portable ones follow 15′. Interesting that Minneapolis, with smaller lots for the most part, requires greater distance.

    I would guess the vast majority of recreational fires in Minneapolis are in violation of these rules.

  2. Monte Castleman May 14, 2018 at 10:41 am #

    This has been a regular issue in Bloomington pitting the (mostly young) loud partyers against the (mostly old) grouches. The rule is in in-ground fire pit has to be 25 feet away from a structure (a A building, garage, house or shed attached to the ground that consists of a
    roof and may have walls). A fire container has to be 8 feet away and the allowed hours are 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM.

  3. Monte Castleman May 14, 2018 at 10:43 am #

    25 feet away from public ROW, and no specific distance from a fence, wood or otherwise.

  4. Sean Hayford Oleary
    Sean Hayford Oleary May 14, 2018 at 10:48 am #

    One thing I’ve seen in commercial settings (example: Pinstripes at Centennial Lakes, many apartment buildings) is a natural-gas-powered outdoor firepit. I wonder if this would be feasible for single-family homes. It would certainly have much less damaging pollution issues, and would probably also make for more easily contained fire sizes. It would have less novelty than building a real fire, but it would sure be cool to flip a switch and enjoy an instant fire on the patio.

    • Monte Castleman May 14, 2018 at 12:28 pm #

      I’ve thought about doing that on my deck, but I don’t want to keep messing around with propane cylinders and I’m not sure how or if you can extend natural gas piping outdoors.

  5. John Maddening May 14, 2018 at 11:28 am #

    Luckily my neighbors aren’t complainers, and can talk to each other about such issues.

    I have a tiny backyard, there’s barely 25 feet between the back of the house and the garage. However, in Saint Paul, if you use a container of some type (as opposed to just an open fire), then the rule is:

    “fires that ARE CONTAINED in an approved container must be at least 15 feet from building or combustible material”

  6. John Gustafson May 14, 2018 at 2:50 pm #

    do any minneapolis parks have recreational fire pits?

    Como Park has them and it’s pretty cool

  7. Nicole Salica
    Nicole Salica May 15, 2018 at 5:53 pm #

    Something seems amiss, or there’s some rule I am not getting – I should be able to have the world’s largest bonfire on the Great Thrivent Parking Block at 5th Ave / 6th St!

  8. Daniel Hartig
    kingledion May 17, 2018 at 7:15 am #

    Does a wooden fence count as combustible material for the 25 foot limit? That might be a further restriction on where fires can go…

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