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I hate backyard fire pits. There, I said it.

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All summer long you’ve savored the long evenings. The twilight time that comes around 9pm. You relish in the comfortable nights and don’t want to come indoors just because the sun is going down. Maybe it’s chilly out, or balmy even, you’re hanging out with your neighbors and even the neighbor’s kids. You’ve opened a nice Cabernet. Or you’ve cracked open a PBR. No difference. It’s all good. The sun has set and you think, “hey, let’s light a fire in the fire pit.” It will create ambiance. Warmth. A cozy light.

It will also create a horrible campfire smell right in the middle of my bedroom and living room. And I hate it.

I live in the burbs. Our homes are pretty dang close together. You can reach out of Emma’s window and touch the chimney of our neighbor’s house. The fence line is about 4 feet from each side of each house. Everyone’s backyards are right up against each other. There’s a row of four houses on one side, and four houses on the other side. When you’re upstairs you can look down and see into everyone’s backyard. I’m not being a creeper here. I’m just relating to you how close we are.

Unless the air is completely still and you live in a vacuum- I will smell your fucking smoke in every room in my house and my hair will smell like I’ve spent all night at a goddamn camp fire! This is because if it’s a hot summer’s day, I will have my windows open at night to let in the cool night air to get the house to a more liveable temperature and not the 84 degrees sauna it is during daylight. We don’t have A/C so this is how we do things, the old fashioned way. If my windows are open at night letting the cool air in, then I’m letting in your stinky ass smoke air too.

You’re thinking, ‘geeze Rebecca, just ask your neighbors not to burn in their firepit.’

What? Are you kidding? Then I’d be the jack ass neighbor spoiling their fun. No, I think the better thing to do is passive aggressively blog about it and hope they read and then stop.

I understand the appeal of these things. I get why folks want them. But people- most of you don’t live in the woods with acres of land between you and your nearest neighbor. Most of you live in the ‘burbs like me. Or near me. So please, for the sake of my respiratory system- stop burning.

I will make a new rule. The edict will be that fire pits are only allowed in the midst of October when I have shut my windows for good. When my house is at a constant 72 degrees and I don’t open windows at night to save myself from upper lip sweat.

THEN, you can burn in your God forsaken fire pit. And invite me over for a glass of wine.

Fire pit? Is your friend or foe?


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  1. I’m a firepit lover and we actually just built one in our backyard this summer. However, we live in the country so we have no close neighbors to bother. AND I kind of love the bonfire smell… like if I’m driving down the road and I smell it I’m all like AHHHHHH! (ok, imagine me weirdly breathing in really hard). If I’m the one that smells like bonfire I totally dig it too. But maybe that’s just because I’m a little teeny bit redneck…

  2. I adore the smell of the backyard fire, albeit, I’m much much further from neighbors than yourself, I like it’s scent, and I enjoy the left after morning aroma that wafts about,
    there are nites and morning afters, where the scented air is a ‘sweet smoky smell’…….hmmmmm, can’t say I know just what that aroma is all about,…… oh heck, yes I do….. there were years when it was directly outside my one window (insert here…close neighbor sons)….. but those days are gone and over for the most part….
    I even like the sound of barking dogs in the nite ….. as long as its not mine, there is a baying setter across the creek and down a couple houses that bays like nothing I’ve ever heard, and for hours…. it’s musical to me…. but not to most….
    okay all that that I do enjoy, I do know i’m in the minority in my neighbor hood…. you should hear the gripes and moans….
    Like you, no AC here ….. just pure fresh air…. signed, Just in a mellow place in life…..

    • I do like the smell of burning leaves. But literally my throat burns when my neighbors have their fire pit going. It’s awful.

  3. Susan Chappelear says:

    I live in the city too. But all of my nearby neighbors have a firepit. I loved smelling theirs. So I finally got one last fall. I love it. Sorry Frugie. I wish I knew how to help you.

  4. Ugh! that would be awful! We live in a neighborhood with a HOA and it’s against the rules to have open fire pits, which is sad, cause I love them. Yeah…I’m one of those. But if I knew it was going into peoples homes I would stop so fast! Our houses are close together as well and the problem we get is our neighbor to one side of us smokes outside all night. He doesn’t smoke in his house but goes to the back porch and since he works all night long the smoke comes into our bedroom and living room when our windows are open. All. night. long. and we don’t have AC either. I just hate it. Then our neighbor to the other side of us yells and claps at his dog all night. Worse than if the dog were barking. Such is life in the burbs.
    I feel for ya!

    • We have weird neighbor behaviors too. Like the man who likes opera at 11:30 at night. People and all their oddities!

  5. I love my fire-pit. You know what I don’t love? The neighbors across the brook who build a full on, witch-burning bonfire every night.

  6. I got a little anxious reading this, thinking “Oh, no. Do MY neighbors think that about our fire pit?” Then I remembered that most of the time they are over when we’re pitting. And their bedroom is on the other side of the house. And our homes aren’t super duper close.

    I love my fire pit, and I love the smell. It would suck, though, to have a respiratory reaction to the smoke.

  7. I like them, because all the neighbors get together, the kids run around, and it’s just fun. But, the houses are spread out where we are. If the houses were super close, and my bedroom filled up with smoke, and I was Red-Eye McWheezypants every time my neighbors had a fire pit, I’m sure I would hate them too. So sorry you have to go through this!

  8. Firepits are the worst. I can’t think what I dislike more, the smoke that always blows in your face, or the stench that only goes away with a good shower and load of wash. I’m with you, Frugie. Leave the campfires to the campers. I’ll be inside with my Cabernet.

  9. I get the whole sensitive nose thing. But, definitely am on the opposite side of the fence here (are we neighbors?) At least I know ONE of our neighbors doesn’t mind since they come over and join us…not sure about the other side. But also don’t care. They got mad when we pruned our own trees, on our property, that bordered our lawns. They were enjoying their privacy. HAH.

    • Neighbors are funny. We had a neighbor that took down some huge cedars that were giving us shade! Made us so sad. But we didn’t give them any grief about it.

  10. We love our outdoor fireplace…am I still allowed to come back here, pretty please? 🙂

  11. Agree 100%. If you live in a small urban community, you should not have a fire pit. Period. End of story. I live in a townhome (separate, but only a few feet between each unit) with TINY backyards and shared fences, and still some of the people here are burning fires like they’re out at Ted Kaczynski’s cabin in Montana.

    This is not only dangerous, it’s rude.

    You live in the country, have your fire; you live three feet away from your neighbor, guess what? No fires!

  12. frustrated says:

    To those that burn, please remember your fire is always going to affect someone. You may be sitting up wind but there is always someone who is going to be down wind. I cannot move my home, but you can move to the other side of the fire pit. If you can smell it, you are breathing it and that becomes a health issue not only to you but to your guests and neighbors as well. There are clean alternatives and although a gas/propane fire may not have the exact same effects, it is a considerate alternative to a wood burning fire. Flames that play off features such as water and colorful stones can be quite beautiful to watch and just as mesmerizing as a wood fire (if you have never seen one of these, check them out on the internet, there are several sites that sell them). Thank you Frugie, for giving me the opportunity to speak my mind and thanks to those that will consider a change 🙂

  13. Hey fire pit hater lady, I’d say that you live in the wrong place. Have you ever the term “Suburb hell”? Well, your description of cookie cutter house after cookie cutter house set apart by one arms length must be what they were referring to. I can only imagine that living next to a complaining, unhappy, busy body like you will leave your poor neighbors Inna hell worse than yours.

  14. The fire department has been to our house twice tonight. Starting around 8:30 pm our house started filling with a smokey smell like trash was being burnt. Then again at 1 am with a smell of wires or electrical fire. As soon as I start to smell the smoke I run around the whole house shutting windows, but it doesn’t do much since the house we rent is almost 100 years old as are the windows that leak. In the winter we put plastic up, but it’s spring and I would love to have some fresh air! OMG I HATE FIRE PITS! I am almost 5 months pregnant and have asthma. The neighbor that put his fire out at 1 am has a permit to burn so what will happen tomorrow? I am sure he will have another fire going! He is two house down and the smoke fills my house. My two year old son coughs all night long and it’s after 4 am and I am still up because I can’t stop coughing and my lungs burn when I inhale. At this point I want to move tomorrow, but we can’t because we have a lease. How is a renter suppose to know if they are moving into a fire pit smoky house? I just want to be able to open my windows and have CLEAN air! Is that really too much to ask for?