It's a beautiful Michigan evening. Perfect night for a campfire, huh?

Depending on where you live, it may or may not be legal to use that new fire pit you just got.

Within the city limits of Lansing, most recreational fire pits are legal to use. However, there is a catch. You need a permit.

The City of Lansing's Fire Marshal Office requires a Residential Burn Permit Application to be completed before you can be authorized to set that backyard blaze. The permit costs $50 (prorated to $25 after October 1).

There are a few rules to follow in order to be approved for a Residential Burn Permit.

In Lansing, fire pits (and any other recreational burning) are only permitted between 5pm and 10pm Mondays through Thursdays, from 5pm to midnight on Fridays, and from 8am until midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekend hours are also permitted on several holidays, including Good Friday; Memorial Day; the 4th of July; Labor Day; Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and the Friday after; Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; New Year's Eve and New Year's Day; and MLK Day.

The burning area is limited to no more than 3 feet in diameter, and no more than 2 feet high. Wood is the only approved material to burn. You're not allowed to burn building materials, brush, leaves, grass or trash.

Portable fire pits have to be at least 15 feet away from any structure. If you've got an in-ground fire pit, it needs to be at least 25 feet away from any building or structure.

The fire is required to be attended constantly, and a water source has to be available at all times.

The good news? You don't have to get a new permit every time you want to use your fire pit in Lansing. An approved residential burn permit is good for as many campfires as you want to have until the end of the following March. You do have to re-apply each year.

Keep in mind that if you fail to comply with any of these conditions, you risk having your burn permit revoked without notice. The Fire Marshal Office may also issue a fine of up to $150.

Don't live in Lansing? It would be wise to check with your community's fire authorities before making any assumptions about the legality of recreational burning in your area.

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