ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The mastery of making fire is one of mankind’s greatest achievements, and the act of gathering around a roaring fire is deeply engrained in our primitive consciousness.

In summertime evenings, many people enjoy gathering around a campfire for warmth or making S’mores.

Some residents dig firepits for that purpose in their back yard and construct them with decorative cement blocks, others prefer to purchase a fire kettle from a local hardware store.

But – would it surprise you to know that using a fire kettle or fire pit for any purpose other than cooking is against the law?

In Rockford, the city has an ordinance against open burning. This would make sense since Rockford is known as “The Forest City,” and common knowledge tells us that wood is fuel for fire.

The city does not allow residents to burn leaves in the fall, for instance, although the practice is permitted in Winnebago County.

Rockford’s ordinance allows for a fire pit of fewer than 2 feet by 3 feet, built from either steel or stone, which is kindled only for the purposes of cooking food for human consumption.

If you have a backyard fire pit and you’re not using it exclusively for the purpose of cooking, you are in violation of the law, and subject to a fine.

The ordinance says it is also meant to protect those with respiratory conditions from fire smoke.

The city says it does issue permits upon request for special event bonfires and prairie/ecological burns.

There is no state law prohibiting backyard fires, but many cities in Illinois have regulations against open burning.

Rockford also has a strict ban on fireworks, on the grounds that they disrupt neighbors, damage homes and buildings, and cause emotional and psychological distress.