In the 2009 International Fire Code (Section 302.1) recreational fires are defined as “an outdoor fire burning materials other than rubbish where the fuel being burned is not contained in an incinerator, outdoor fireplace, portable outdoor fireplace, barbeque grill or barbeque pit and has a total fuel area of 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes.”
This type of fire must be at least 25 feet away from a structure or combustible materials and must not at any point move any closer to the structure than the stated 25 foot distance.
Outdoor fires in a permanent fixture (such as BBQs and gas-fueled fire pits, chimineas) must be at least 10 feet away from a structure or combustible materials. Portable, manufactured outdoor fireplaces must be at least 15 feet away from a structure or combustible materials except for 1- and 2-family dwellings.
For more information, go to ftp://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/ibr/icc.ifc.2009.pdf