Do I Need a Permit for a Firepit in Howard County, MD?

Summer is here, and the desire to roast hot dogs and melt chocolate bars between graham crackers has never been stronger.

You may have even had your heart set on a hardscaped fire pit for your backyard, making your home the talk of the town.

You’ve been down the home improvement road before, however, and it begs the question: Will you need a permit for a firepit in Howard County?

The short answer is “no.”

But, hold on a second, hotshot. There’s more.

According to the Howard County Department of Fire & Rescue, the open air burning of leaves, twigs, trash, yard waste, and building materials is strictly prohibited in the county. Recreational fires, on the other hand – such as that perennial summertime favorite, bonfires – are allowed, but require a homeowner to obtain a single-use permit. Failure to comply is illegal. (Bonfires may not exceed 5 ft. by 5 ft., and are restricted to a maximum burning time of 5 hours.)

So where do fire pits fit into the equation?

According to the Howard County Fire Marshall’s Office, non-commercial cooking fires, regulated by the county’s Fire Prevention Code, do not require written permission. These include:

  • Outdoor fire pits and fireplaces, barbeque grills, and similar devices used solely for the purpose of preparing food.
  • In-ground firepits used for cooking that are no more than 2 ft. in diameter and 1 ft. deep, and are surrounded by a noncombustible fire ring.
  • In-ground, earth-covered fire pits used for roasting food.

When considering firepit installation for your home, the following criteria must be met:

  • Firepits (or similar devices such as grills, luminaries, and hibachis) cannot be placed:
    • Within 15 feet of a building or home
    • On a balcony
    • Under a structural overhang
  • Firepits in Howard County must be equipped with spark arrestors, such as a metal, mesh screen, to prevent the ejection of flammable debris.
  • The total burn area cannot exceed 3 ft. in diameter and 2 ft. in height.

Eos Outdoor Services specializes in hardscaped firepits and ornate outdoor fireplaces for your home or estate. Whether you are looking for something basic and functional, or decorative and luxurious, our crews can oblige. Our low-maintenance, cost-effective hardscaping services utilize only the highest-quality, durable, and seasonally adaptable materials and our team adheres to all industry safety standards and building codes.

If you have questions regarding the rules and regulations surrounding a permit for a firepit in Howard County, call the Office of the Fire Marshall, 410-313-6040.

If you want to get started on those S’mores, call the firepit experts at Eos Outdoor Services at 410-648-2820.


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