This is a question that we get with reasonable frequency. And the answer to this question is: sometimes.
A statement put out by Toronto Fire Services on April 24, 2007 states:
“The Toronto Fire Services would like to reissue a reminder to the public regarding outdoor fireplaces, firepits, and chiminea devices after receiving numerous calls from the public this past weekend. Open air burning is not permitted within the City of Toronto as per the Ontario Fire Code; these devices as designed emit an open flame.
Open air burning includes the use of various types of outdoor fireplaces. Units vary in design from a steel firebox with a screened opening and short vent stack to a clay fire pot with an opening for fuel loading and a vent stack; they are also known as “Chimineas.” Although outdoor fireplaces can be purchased at retail outlets throughout the city, open air burning is not permitted unless such burning is used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue and is restricted to a small, confined fire that is supervised at all times.”
It is relatively clear from this statement that Chimineas and “chiminea-like” devices are defined in this statement. The statement in its entirety, refers to regulations defined by the Ontario Fire Code. The Ontario Fire Code states:
220.127.116.11. (1) Open-air burning shall not be permitted unless approved, or unless such burning consists of a small, confined fire, supervised at all times, and used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue.
(2) Sentence (1) does not apply to an appliance that is in conformance with the Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000, is for outdoor use and is installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
So it concurs with Toronto Fire Services in sentence (1) and adds sentence (2) regarding “appliances”. As well, in sentence (1) it states “unless approved” which it defines as “approved by the Chief Fire Official”
So back to the answer to the question: sometimes. Under the Ontario Fire Code, which is used as the standard by Toronto Fire Services, outdoor open fire pits are illegal unless they are:
1. used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue and is restricted to a small, confined fire that is supervised at all times
2. approved by the Chief Fire Official (of the Toronto Fire Services Fire Prevention Division)
3. appliance that is in conformance with the Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000, is for outdoor use and is installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Which our fire pits, when installed by a licensed gas fitter, are.