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Campfires and Fireworks

People have always loved gathering around an open fire, and in the modern world a garden fire is still a great focal point for entertaining in the garden on a cool evening. Fire has a natural magnetism; it tends to draw people around, creating a sense of camaraderie, as well as providing physical warmth.

Fires are suitable for day or night time entertaining. They can be used to cook food and to provide atmospheric lighting effects for an evening party.

What to Burn

When gathering wood for your fire make sure you only collect dry wood that will burn cleanly and not produce excessive smoke.

DO NOT use wood offcuts that have been chemically treated. This includes treated pine, and wood that has been painted or soaked in oil. Do not burn wood or foliage that has recently been cut, or is wet. Some woods (such as Willow) simply don’t burn well – so if you have difficulty with something, don’t persist.

How to Build and Light a Fire

A fire needs fuel and oxygen to burn. When constructing your fire ensure that there is plenty of air movement around the fire. To start a fire you need to include an easily lit material such as dry newspaper or fire lighters.

Matches are often the safest way to ignite a fire. Cigarette lighters contain flammable fuels that are potentially dangerous around a fire. Other dangerous materials to use are fuels such as kerosene and petrol, but you need to ensure they are kept in fire proof containers and well away from sources of heat/ignition. Never pour kerosene or petrol onto hot embers or flames.

Types of Outdoor Fires


Backyard barbeques are normally built from concrete blocks, brick or stone. The best wood barbeques are ones where the fire sits on a raised metal grill, allowing air to move below the fire and the ash to drop through. 

The hot plate above the fire should slope slightly backwards to allow fat to drain off to the rear. A tall chimney will reduce smoke around the cooking area.


Bonfires are a great sight at night and can bring excitement to an outdoor gathering. They are also potentially very dangerous.

Preparation is the key to a successful bonfire. First select your site carefully. It should be well clear of any surrounding trees and shrubs. If you plan to create a small bonfire, then you may need a clear space of about 3m radius around the fire. If you plan a large bonfire, then plan for at least 10m clear area on all sides of the bonfire. Using a rake, clear away any branches, twigs and dry grass from the area.  Make sure there is nothing else around the bonfire that could catch fire. 

After you have collected your wood, pile it into a pyramid shape, allowing for plenty of air movement to get the fire going. Leave some fire wood in a pile away from the main fire so you can add extra wood once the initial blaze dies down. 

Fire Pits

Fire pits are a traditional and safe way to have an outdoor fire. Simply dig a hole and build your fire inside. 

When constructing the fire, be sure to allow enough air movement around the base of the fire so that it will ignite easily.

If you want to use your fire pit for a barbeque, sit a metal grill in the base of the pit. Place a few bricks on either side of the grill and place a metal cooking plate on top.


Braziers are generally made of wrought iron shaped into a bowl or cage design. This allows air to enter from the side and base resulting in good ignition and heat generation. The fire is lit inside the cage and ash falls into a collection tray below.  These heaters are popular in cafes and are also good for domestic patios and decks.


Torches are an excellent alternative to electric lights for illuminating the garden at night. They can be fuelled by kerosene, bottled gas or even wood. Position them so that there is enough light for people to make their way around the garden. Be very careful that any torches are positioned away from overhanging vegetation and away from buildings, or anywhere that they may cause a fire.


If you want a fireworks for an event such as a wedding or party, there are companies that can provide displays. The legalities need to be considered and they can be very expensive.  It is best to hire a company that deals with this sort of entertainment.

Safety Issues

Fires are always potentially dangerous. They should be kept well clear of buildings, trees and other plants. Fires should always be kept well contained in either a purpose-built fireplace or a fire pit built for the occasion.

A responsible adult should always supervise outdoor fires. It is also important that they are sober - alcohol impairs movement and judgement and can lead to accidents. If children and pets are around, careful supervision is doubly important. If fireworks are to be part of the evening’s entertainment, they should be stored well away from the fire.

Always have a garden hose or other water supply on hand so you can put out the fire.

Before you decide to light an outdoor fire check with your local council to see if they have any requirements. Outdoor fires are not allowed in some localities. Never, ever light a fire in the open during total fire bans.

Train to Organise Professional Events

As an Event Manager and organiser, you may be involved with arranging events featuring fires or fireworks, or as an Ecotourism Tour Guide, you may arrange campfires or firework displays as part of your work.

If entertaining or arranging leisure or business related events appeals to you, these are just two areas that may be of interest.

We offer a wide selection of courses for professional training in a wide range of disciplines. Some of our courses and directories are shown lower down this page. All of our courses are written and delivered by highly experienced specialists, and are studied by distance learning. If you would like to know more, why not get in touch with our specialist Hospitality and Tourism tutors today. They will be happy to discuss your aims and study options with you.

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