Title:
PORTABLE FIRE PIT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable fire pit includes a base for supporting and containing combustible material, a plurality of legs for supporting the base above the ground or other surface, and a plurality of fire screens movably mounted to the base for movement between a first, compact position for transport and storage of the portable fire pit and a second, extended position in which the screens are substantially upright to contain the fire. Each of the fire screens comprises a frame and a wire screen mounted therein. Additionally, the fire screens are movably mounted to the base using sliding hinges and guides such that in the second, extended position the fire screens are maintained in the upright position by the guides.



Inventors:
Fitzgerald, Christian (Atlanta, GA, US)
Carbonara, Russell (Atlanta, GA, US)
Application Number:
12/351242
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
01/09/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24B1/181
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RINEHART, KENNETH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GARDNER GROFF GREENWALD & VILLANUEVA. PC (2018 POWERS FERRY ROAD, SUITE 800, ATLANTA, GA, 30339, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A portable fire pit comprising: a base for supporting and containing combustible material; a plurality of legs for supporting the base above the ground or other surface; a plurality of fire screens movably mounted to the base for movement between a first, compact position for transport and storage of the portable fire pit and a second, extended position in which the screens are substantially upright to contain the fire, wherein each of the fire screens comprises a frame and a wire screen mounted therein, wherein the fire screens are movably mounted to the base using sliding hinges and guides and wherein in the second, extended position the fire screens are maintained in the upright position by the guides.

2. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 1 wherein the legs are pivotally mounted to the base.

3. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 2 further comprising an ash removable door positioned in the base for removing accumulated ash from the portable fire pit.

4. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 2 further comprising a lid for enclosing the fire pit.

5. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 4 wherein the lid includes pair of removable handles.

6. The portable fire pit as claimed in claim 4, wherein the lid is hingedly secured to one of the fire screens.

7. The portable fire pit as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a fire screen removably attached to the base.

8. A portable fire pit comprising: a base for supporting and containing combustible material; and a plurality of fire screens movably mounted to the base for movement between a first, compact position for transport and storage of the portable fire pit and a second, extended position in which the screens are substantially upright to contain the fire.

9. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 8 wherein the screens are rotatably mounted to the base.

10. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 9 wherein the screens are rotatably mounted to the base using sliding hinges.

11. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 9 further comprising guides mounted to the base to support the screens in the extended, upright position.

12. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 8 further comprising a plurality of folding legs mounted to the base for supporting the base above the ground or other surface.

13. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 8 further comprising an ash removal door mounted to or formed in the base to allow the convenient removal of accumulated ash.

14. A portable fire pit as claimed in claim 8 wherein the base is rectangular with four sides and wherein the plurality of fire screens comprise four screens, with each screen comprising a screen frame supporting a wire screen therein.

15. A fire pit, comprising: a base; and a plurality of screen panels secured to the base that can be assembled into a substantially upright configuration from a substantially flat, folded configuration within the base, wherein the plurality of screens are maintained in the substantially upright configuration without the use of fasteners.

16. The fire pit as claimed in claim 15 further comprising a plurality of guide elements mounted to or formed within the base for maintaining the plurality of screens in the substantially upright configuration.

17. The fire pit as claimed in claim 16 wherein gravity helps to hold the screens in place in their substantially upright configuration.

18. The fire pit as claimed in claim 15, wherein at least one screen panel is removably secured to the base and at least one screen panel is movably secured to the base.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Non-Provisional patent application Ser. No. 11/194,123 filed Jul. 29, 2005, which claims the benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/592,661 filed Jul. 30, 2004. This application also claims the benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/110,371 filed Oct. 31, 2008. The specifications of these three prior applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties for all purposes.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a fire pit, and more particularly to a portable fire pit that can be transported easily and stored compactly.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many people enjoy an open, outdoor fire, such as at a campground. In many situations, however, it is necessary or desirable to provide good protection against the fire spreading. It is commonly known to use a fire ring or fire pit to help contain the fire. Such a conventional fire ring often consists of nothing more than a ring or hoop of metal placed upon the ground to allow combustible material, such as wood or charcoal, to be placed in the middle of the ring. While this works well at a campground, the fire ring is not particularly well-suited for use in one's backyard or for moving from place to place. It is also not well-suited to use, for example, on the back deck of a home.

As an alternative to the simple fire ring, one can build a fire pit with substantially upright sides to provide the kind of protection that might be desirable for use near homes. In such a construction, the fire pit typically includes metal screens located in the sides to provide protection against the fire spreading, while still allowing people to enjoy seeing the fire through the screens. Unfortunately, this type of construction can be somewhat bulky, can be difficult therefore to move from place to place, and can take up excess of space in storage.

Accordingly, it can be seen that a need exists in the art for a portable fire pit which can provide good protection against the spread of a fire, which can be transported easily from place to place, which can be made compact for storage or transport, and yet which can provide significant fire protection for use near homes. It is to the provision of such a portable fire pit the present invention is primarily directed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly described, in a first preferred form the present invention comprises a portable fire pit having a base for supporting and containing combustible material and a plurality of (optional) legs for supporting the base above the ground or other surface. The portable fire pit further comprises a plurality of fire screens movably mounted to the base for movement between a first, compact position for transport and storage of the portable fire pit and a second, extended position in which the screens are substantially upright to contain the fire. Each of the fire screens preferably comprises a frame and a wire screen mounted therein. Preferably, the fire screens are movably mounted to the base using sliding hinges and guides and in the second, extended position the fire screens are maintained in the upright position by the guides.

Described in another way, the portable fire pit of the present invention comprises a base for supporting and containing combustible material and a plurality of fire screens movably mounted to the base for movement between a first, compact position for transport and storage of the portable fire pit and a second, extended position in which the screens are substantially upright to contain the fire.

Optionally, the screens are rotatably mounted to the base. In a preferred form, the screens are rotatably mounted to the base using sliding hinges or similar. Advantageously, guides can be mounted to the base to support the screens in the extended, upright position. Also, the portable fire pit can be fitted with a plurality of folding legs mounted to the base for supporting the base above the ground or other surface.

The portable fire pit can also be provided with an ash removal door mounted to or formed in the base to allow the convenient removal of accumulated ash. The portable fire pit can be a polygon in overall shape, wherein, for example, the base is rectangular with four sides and wherein the plurality of screens comprise four screens, with each screen comprising a screen frame supporting a wire screen therein.

The present invention has numerous advantages, including the compactness and the suitability for transport and storage. Also, while the fire pit encloses the fire with a plurality of fire screens for preventing the fire from spreading, the fire pit also has legs for preventing the fire pit from burning a surface beneath it. Moreover, the fire pit can be assembled and disassembled quickly and easily without the use of fasteners or tools.

These and other aspects, features and advantages of the invention will be understood with reference to the drawing figures and detailed description herein, and will be realized by means of the various elements and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims. It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following brief description of the drawings and detailed description of the invention are exemplary and explanatory of preferred embodiments of the invention, and are not restrictive of the invention, as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable fire pit according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, shown as erected for use.

FIG. 2 is a top view of a base portion of the fire pit of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the base portion of FIG. 2 and showing legs folded up against the base portion.

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of a fire screen panel portion of the fire pit of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a sliding hinge portion of the fire pit of FIG. 1, shown with one panel in the compact configuration and another panel in an extended upright position.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the fire pit of FIG. 1 in a compact arrangement.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a fire pit according to a second exemplary embodiment of the present invention, shown as erected for use and with a removable lid.

FIG. 8A is a perspective view of a portion of the fire pit of FIG. 7, shown partially erected.

FIG. 8B is a perspective view a sliding hinge portion of the fire pit of FIG. 8A.

FIG. 9 is perspective view of a hinge portion for use with a fire pit of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is bottom view of the fire pit of FIG. 7.

FIG. 11A is a top perspective view of a portion of the base of FIG. 7 and showing a locking mechanism for locking a leg.

FIG. 11B is a top perspective view of a locking mechanism for locking a leg according to another example embodiment.

FIG. 12 is a sectional view of a sliding hinge portion for use with a fire screen panel of a fire pit of the present invention according to another example embodiment.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a portion of the base and the front fire screen panel fire pit of FIG. 7.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the fire pit of FIG. 7 in a compact arrangement.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawing figures, in which like reference numbers refer to like parts throughout the several views, preferred forms of the present invention will now be described by way of example embodiments. It is to be understood that the embodiments described and depicted herein are only selected examples of the many and various forms that the present invention may take, and that these examples are not intended to be exhaustive or limiting of the claimed invention. Also, as used in the specification including the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include the plural unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Ranges may be expressed herein as from “about” or “approximately” one particular value and/or to “about” or “approximately” another particular value. When such a range is expressed, another embodiment includes from the one particular value and/or to the other particular value. Similarly, when values are expressed as approximations, by use of the antecedent “about,” it will be understood that the particular value forms another embodiment.

FIG. 1 shows a portable fire pit 10 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Preferably, the fire pit 10 includes a base 12, a plurality of legs 14, 16, 18, and 20 for supporting the base above the ground or other surface, and one or more screens or panels, preferably including side screens 22, 24 and end screens 26, 28, for containing the fire within the fire pit. When the fire pit 10 is in this assembled or erected configuration as shown in FIG. 1, the side screens 22, 24 and the end screens 26, 28 are upright and generally perpendicular to the base 12. The side screens 22, 24 are generally parallel to one another and generally perpendicular to and abut the end screens 18, 20. Thus, the base 12 and the screens 22, 24, 26, and 28 form a generally rectangular box-like structure with an interior chamber for containing a fire.

In the depicted embodiment, the base 12 itself has sidewalls 30, 32, 34, and 36, for creating a generally rectangular, pan-like structure for containing combustible material, such as wood, charcoal, or other suitable combustible material for providing a fire therein. Thus, in the depicted embodiment, the base 12 resembles an open, rectangular box with four corners. Preferably, the base is constructed of a fire-resistant or fireproof material, such as for example, a metal such as cast aluminum or sheet steel, although those skilled in the art will understand that various other non-combustible materials can be employed as well. In one exemplary embodiment, the base has dimensions of approximately 20″×20″×4″, although those skilled in the art will understand the base can have various shapes and/or sizes without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Optionally, the base 12 includes an ash removal door 40 for releasing ash built up by the fuel as it is consumed, as seen more clearly in FIG. 2. The ash removal door 40 can be mounted to or formed in the base 12 to allow the convenient removal of accumulated ash. The ash removal door 40 can operate by a variety of mechanisms, such as for example, the door can be a sliding door, or the door can be a hinged door fastened shut with a latch that can be manually opened. Those skilled in the art will understand that various other forms of doors or openings within the base 12 can be employed as well so as to remove the ash from the fire pit 10 without having to turn the pit upside down to dump out the ash.

As shown in FIG. 3, preferably four legs 14, 16, 18, and 20 support the base 12 of the fire pit 10, although those skilled in art will understand that any number of legs can be used so as to adequately support the fire pit, or even no legs can be used. In such an alternative embodiment, the base 12 could set directly on the ground without legs, although preferably the fire pit 10 includes legs so as to support the base 12 some distance above the ground or other surface in order to prevent the base from burning surface beneath it. The legs can be short, and thus, the fire pit 10 would sit close to ground for use at a campsite, for example. Or, the legs can be tall, and thus, the fire pit 10 would sit farther from ground for use on a deck or patio, for example. As an alternative to legs, the base 12 could be provided with an integral peripheral stand that supports the rest of the base above the ground.

For ease of compactness and portability, the legs 14, 16, 18, and 20 can be pivotally mounted to the base 12 or constructed to fold up under the base. For example, the legs 14, 16, 18, and 20 can be configured similar to the legs of a folding card table, having a hinge that locks the legs in place in an extended position. Optionally, the legs can be extendible so that they provide more or less clearance between the base 12 of the fire pit 10 and the surface beneath it. Those skilled in the art will understand that legs can have various other configurations and still be in the scope of the present invention.

In the depicted embodiment, four panels or fire screens 22, 24, 26, and 28 are movably mounted to the base 12 for movement between a first, compact position for transport and storage of the portable fire pit and a second, extended position in which the screens are substantially upright to contain the fire. Preferably, each screen is sized and shaped to fit within the base 12 of the fire pit so that they can lay substantially flat in their compact, folded position and to contain embers within the fire pit when they in the extended, generally upright position. The fire screens or panels can be generally rectangular, with dimensions approximately equal to the dimensions of the base so that the screens can lay substantially flat in the base.

As best seen in FIGS. 4 and 5, each of the fire screens or panels can comprise a frame 50 and a wire mesh screen 52 mounted in the frame. Preferably, the frame 50 has an upper portion 54 having the mesh screen 52 therein, and a lower portion 56 secured to the base 12 when the screen is upright and also when the screen is in its compact position. The lower portion 56 of the frame 50 has an undercut region 58 defined between a shoulder 60 of the frame 50 and a pin or stub 62 extending laterally from the frame. Preferably, there is an undercut region 58 on opposing sides of the frame 50 sized and shaped so as to clear a guide element 72 when the panel is moved from its compact position to its upright position.

Preferably, the fire screens are movably mounted to the base 12 using sliding hinges 70, which include guides 72 mounted to or formed within the base of the fire pit 10, such that when the screens are in an extended position, the fire screens are maintained in the upright position by the guides. As seen more clearly in FIG. 5, a pair of guides 72 is located proximate a corner of the base 12. Preferably, each guide 72 is an elongated U-shaped guide having a channel 74 therein for constraining the pin 62 and for holding the fire screen in an upright, erect position. The channel is divided by a shelf or divider 76. Thus, the portion of the channel between the base 12 and the shelf 76 constrains the pin, while the portion of the channel above the shelf provides a slot for receiving the frame 50 of the fire screen. The shelf 76 provides a seat for the shoulder 60 of the frame 50 when the fire screen is in its upright position, as well as provides an upper limit for the translational movement of the pin 62.

Preferably, the guide 72 is constructed of a durable, fireproof or fire-resistant material such as steel, and welded to the base 12, although those skilled in the art will understand that the guide can be constructed of various materials and secured to the base in a variety of manners. Additionally, the guide 72 can have various other configurations so as to hold a fire screen in an erect or upright position.

The pin 62 rotates about a pivot axis 78. Additionally, this pivot axis moves translationally with the pin as the pin is moved towards or away from the shelf 76. Thus, to move a fire screen, such as fire screen 22, from its compact position to its upright position, the screen, while remaining generally parallel to the base 12, is moved upwards towards the shelf 76 until the pin 62 engages the shelf. The screen 22 can be rotated about the axis 78 until the shoulder 60 of the frame 50 clears the top of the guide 72. The portion of the screen above the shoulder 60 can slide down into the channel until the shoulder 60 rests on the shelf 76. Thus, gravity helps secure the frame of the fire screen in its upright position, as shown by screen 26 in FIG. 5. Notably, the user can quickly and easily assemble and disassemble the fire pit 10 without the use of fasteners or tools.

Preferably, there are a total of eight guides 72 within the base 12 of the fire pit 10, two of which are located at each corner as depicted in FIG. 5, although those of skill in the art will understand that a single guide or multiple guides can be used to secure each fire screen in an erect, upright position. In the depicted embodiment, the dimensions of the undercut region 58, the height of the guide 72 relative to the base, the height of the shelf 74 relative to the base, and the distance between the guide and the corner of the base 12 are all relatively precise. Those skilled in the art will understand that there can be various modifications to the present invention, such as including a first guide for constraining the pin and a second guide for securing the frame in an upright position. Thus, the pin can be longer or shorter than what is shown in the depicted embodiment. Additionally, some of the guides can be located in the corners of the base, while other guides are not. Moreover, the pin could be omitted from the device such that the fire panels are completely removable from the fire pit. These modifications are just some of the many modifications that can be made to the fire pit while still being within the scope of the present invention.

Optionally, the fire pit 10 includes a lid 80. The lid 80 is a generally rectangular box-like structure for enclosing the top of the fire pit 10. In one example embodiment, the lid has dimensions of approximately 24″×24″×2″, although those skilled in the art understand that the lid can be of various shapes and sizes, and still be within the scope of the present invention. Preferably, the lid 80 includes a pair of removable handles 82 and 84. The lid 80 can include tracks or channels on opposing sides for inserting and locking handles 82 and 84 therein. For example, the lid 80 can be placed on the ends of the upright screens so as to enclose the fire pit, and when the lid is to be removed, the user can insert handles 82 and 84 into their respective tracks to lift the hot lid without using “potholders” or some other insulating device to protect the user from the heat of the lid.

Additionally, when the screens are in the compact position within the base 12, the lid 80 can slide over the base 12 so as to provide a compact box for securely containing the contents during transport and storage of the fire pit. Optionally, the lid 80 includes a locking mechanism for securing the lid to the base 12 in the compact position. Also optionally, the handles 82 and 84 can be mounted to the lid 80 so as to provide an easier way for the user to carry the compact unit.

Thus, to configure the fire pit 10 from its compact arrangement, the user removes the lid 80 of the compact unit from the base 12. The user also unfolds the legs 14, 16, 18, and 20 of the base 12 if so desired and sits the fire pit 10 on the desired surface. The user lifts the top fire screen panel 22 up, while keeping the panel substantially parallel to the base 12, until the pin 62 abuts the shelf 76. The user rotates the panel about 900 and then slides the frame 50 of the fire screen 22 down into the channel 74 of the guide 72 until the shoulder 60 rests on the shelf 76. The user repeats these steps with the other three fire screens. Once erected, the user can make a fire in the fire pit 10. Optionally, the user can place the lid 80 on the upper ends of the fire screens so as to keep debris from getting into the fire.

FIGS. 7-9 show a portable fire pit 100 according to a second exemplary embodiment of the present invention. Preferably, the fire pit 100 includes a base 102, a plurality of legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 for supporting the base above the ground or other surface, and one or more screens or panels, preferably including side fire screen panels 112, 114, front fire screen panel 116, and rear fire screen panel 118, for containing the fire within the fire pit. Preferably, each fire screen panel includes a suitably shaped wire mesh screen mounted within a frame. As shown in FIG. 7, the side fire screen panels 112, 114 are substantially the same in size and shape, while the front and rear fire screen panels 116, 118 are substantially the same in size and shape and are preferably somewhat longer than the side fire screen panels.

When the fire pit 100 is in this assembled or erected configuration as shown in FIG. 7, the side fire screen panels 112, 114 and the front and rear fire screen panels 116, 118 are generally upright and somewhat perpendicular to the base 102. The side fire screen panels 112, 114 are generally parallel to one another and somewhat perpendicular to and abut the front and rear fire screen panels 116, 118. Thus, the base 102 and the fire screen panels 112, 114, 116, and 118 form a somewhat trapezoidal, box-like structure with an interior chamber for containing a fire. Preferably, the front fire screen panel 116 includes a handle 120 along an upper portion thereof for facilitating the opening and closing of the front panel. Thus, the front panel 116 also functions as a door for adding combustible material to the fire pit 100.

When the fire pit 100 is fully erected, a top screen 130 rests atop the free edges of the fire screen panels 112, 114, 116, and 118 to form a generally enclosed structure. Preferably, the rear fire screen panel 118 is hingedly connected to the top fire screen 130 with one or more hinges 132. As depicted in FIG. 8A, two such hinges are used. Preferably, the two hinges 132 are spaced apart from one another. Additionally, one hinge can be located near each upper corner of the rear fire screen panel 118, although one or more suitable hinges can be located anywhere along the upper edge or portion of the rear screen panel 118.

Preferably, each hinge 132 includes a flange 134 extending from the top fire screen panel 130. The flange 134 itself has a hole (not shown) extending therethrough. The hinge 132 further includes a pin 138 received in a receiver sleeve 135 attached to the rear fire panel screen 118. The pin 138 mates with the hole in the flange 134 to create a pivot axis 139 about which the top screen 130 can pivot. Thus, the top screen 130 can pivot in towards the inner surface of the rear panel 118 or out away from the inner surface of the rear panel 118. However, those skilled in the art will understand that other suitable hinges can be employed as well. For example, FIG. 9 shows an alternative pin assembly 132′ for connecting the rear fire screen panel 118′ to the top fire screen panel 130′. The hinge 132′ can include a flange 134′ extending from the top fire screen panel 130′. The flange 134′ itself has a hole 136 extending therethrough. The hinge 132 further includes a pin 138′ coupled to an edge of the top screen 130′ near two corners thereof. The pin 138′ resides with a notch or cutout 133 within the rear fire screen panel 118′. The pin 138′ mates with the hole 136 in the flange 134′ to create a pivot axis 139′ about which the top screen 130 can pivot.

As best seen in FIGS. 7-8, the base 102 itself has sidewalls 140, 142, 144, and 146 and bottom 148, for creating a generally rectangular, pan-like structure for containing combustible material, such as wood, charcoal, or other suitable combustible material for providing a fire therein. Thus, in the depicted embodiment, the base 102 resembles an open, somewhat rectangular box with four corners. Preferably, the base is constructed of a fire-resistant or fireproof material, such as for example a metal such as cast aluminum or sheet steel, although various other non-combustible materials can be employed as well. In one exemplary embodiment, the base has dimensions of approximately 20″×13.5″×4″, although the base can have various shapes and/or sizes without departing from the scope of the present invention. Also preferably, the base 102 includes a handle 150 extending along the side wall 140 to facilitate carrying of the fire pit 100 when in its compact configuration. Any suitable handle 150 for facilitating the carrying of the fire pit can be used and can extend along any portion of the base 102. For example, the handle 150 can extend along any of the sidewalls or the bottom.

Optionally, the base 102 can include an ash removal door (not shown) for releasing ash built up by the fuel as it is consumed. The ash removal door can be substantially similar to the ash removal door 40 of the first exemplary embodiment. Those skilled in the art will understand that various other forms of doors or openings within the base 102 can be employed as well so as to remove the ash from the fire pit 100 without having to turn the pit upside down to dump out the ash.

As shown more clearly in FIG. 10, preferably four legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 support the base 102 of the fire pit 100, although any number of legs can be used so as to adequately support the fire pit, or even no legs can be used. In such an alternative embodiment, the base 102 could sit directly on the ground without legs, although preferably the fire pit 100 includes legs so as to support the base 102 some distance above the ground or other surface in order to prevent the base from burning the surface beneath it. The legs can be short, and thus, the fire pit 100 would sit close to ground for use at a campsite, for example. Or, the legs can be tall, and thus, the fire pit 100 would sit farther from ground for use on a deck or patio, for example. In the depicted embodiment of FIG. 7, the legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 can support the base 102 approximately 8 to 12 inches above the ground. Alternatively, the base 102 could be provided with an integral peripheral stand that supports the base above the ground. In the depicted embodiment, each leg includes a dual-element wire strut 167 have having a foot pad 168 at a distal end. At the other end is a knee joint 169.

For ease of compactness and portability, the legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 can be pivotally mounted to the base 102 or constructed to fold up under the base. As shown in FIG. 10, the base 102 can include a plurality of recesses 160, 162, 164, and 166 into which the legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 fold. Optionally, each leg includes a locking mechanism 170 for locking the leg in its extended position and for locking the leg in its retracted position, as more clearly depicted in FIG. 11A. For example, a pair of detent nubs or catches 172, 174 can extend into a portion of the recessed area near the knee joint 169. In an example embodiment, the nubs 172, 174 are rivets welded to the base 102. When the user is extending or retracting the leg, the user can supply sufficient force to the leg to overcome the detent nubs 172, 174. Preferably, the detent nubs 172, 174 are secure enough to hold the leg in its extended or splayed position when the fire pit is lifted off of the ground. In other words, preferably, the legs do not freely swing when the fire pit 100 is lifted off of the ground. Advantageously, the configuration of the legs do not require any “unlocking” of components to extend or retract them. Rather, the user simply provides sufficient force to overcome the detent nubs when extending or retracting the legs.

Thus, when in the folded configuration, the legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 are completely housed within the base 102. Alternatively, the legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 can be partially housed within the recesses 160, 162, 164, and 166 of the base. Additionally, other suitable locking mechanisms can be employed as well. For example, a locking mechanism 170 can include a pair of spring clips 172′ and 174′ housed within the interior of the base 102 that lock the legs both in the extended and in the collapsed positions, as shown in FIG. 11B.

Alternatively, the legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 can be configured in a manner similar to the legs of the fire pit 10 of FIG. 1. Optionally, the legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 can be extendible so that they provide more or less clearance between the base 102 of the fire pit 100 and the surface beneath it. Those skilled in the art will understand that the legs can have various other configurations and still be within the scope of the present invention.

Preferably, each fire screen panel is sized and shaped to fit within the base 102 of the fire pit 100 so that they can lay substantially flat in their compact, folded position. The fire screen panels can be generally trapezoidal in shape, with dimensions approximately equal to or less than the dimensions of the base 102 so that the panels can lay substantially flat in the base.

In the depicted embodiment, at least three fire screen panels 112, 114, and 118 (i.e., the side and rear panels) are movably mounted to the base 102 for movement between a first, compact position for transport and storage of the portable fire pit 100 and a second, extended position in which the screens are substantially upright to contain the fire. Preferably, the rear fire screen panel 118 is movably secured to the base in both the compact and the upright positions with a pair of nonsliding hinges 180, 182. As shown in FIG. 8A, a lower portion 186 of the rear panel 118 is secured to the base 102. The lower portion 186 has a first undercut region 190 defined between a shoulder 192 of the panel 118 and the first hinge 180 extending laterally from the panel. Preferably, there is a second undercut region 196 and corresponding hinge 182 on the opposing side of the panel 118.

Preferably, the side fire screen panels 112 and 114 are movably mounted to the base 102 using sliding hinges 200 or cam lock type-mechanisms, as shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B. The hinges 200 each include a guide 202 mounted to or formed within the base 102 of the fire pit 100 and having a slot 204 therein for constraining a cooperating pin 194 of the fire screen panel. Also as shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B, the lower portion of each side fire panel screen further includes one or more hooks or catches 198 on the exterior surface of the fire pit (i.e., the exterior surface being the surface facing the user when the fire pit is erected). The base has one or more channels or grooves 206 that cooperate with the one or more catches 198. For example, in the depicted embodiment, the sidewall includes a single, elongated hook 198 that mates with a channel 206 of the base.

FIG. 12 shows a sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the sliding hinge 200′. The sliding hinge of FIG. 12 is substantially similar to the sliding hinge of FIGS. 8A and 8B with the exception that a shelf 206′ with a lip 208 at its distal end for cooperating with a catch 198′ of the fire screen panel is positioned proximate an upper edge of the guide 202′.

Preferably, the guides 202 and channels 206 are constructed of a durable, fireproof or fire-resistant material such as steel, and welded to the base 102, although in alternative embodiments, the guide and shelf can be constructed of various materials and secured to the base in a variety of manners. Additionally, the combination of the guide 202 and channels 206 can have various other configurations so as to hold a fire screen in an erect or upright position.

When erecting or collapsing the side fire screen panels, the pin 194 rotates about a pivot axis 210. Additionally, this pivot axis 210 moves translationally with the pin 194 as the pin is moved within the slot. Thus, to move a side fire screen panel, such as fire screen panel 114, from its compact position to its upright position, the panel, while remaining generally parallel to the base 102, is moved upwards until the pin 194 engages the end of the guide 202. The panel 114 can be rotated about the axis 210 until the hook 198 of the fire screen panel engages and mates with the groove 206 of the base 102.

In an alternative embodiment, the rear fire screen panel 118 is removably mounted to the base with one or more sliding hinges of the type used with the side fire screen panels. Thus, in such embodiment, the rear fire screen panel 118 is connected to the base in a similar manner as the side fire screen panels.

Optionally, one or more of the fire screen panels 112, 114, 116, and 118 can include fasteners for releasably securing the panel to adjacent panels. For example, the rear fire screen panel 118 can optionally include one or more retaining pins 212 that engage and mate with one or more receiving holes 214 of one or more flanges extending from the side fire screen panels 112 and 114, as shown in FIG. 8A. The rear fire screen panel 118 includes two such pins 212 that engage and mate with holes 214 in the side fire screen panels. This arrangement helps secure the side fire screen panels 112 and 114 to the rear fire screen panel 118 and maintain the side and rear fire screen panels in a generally upright configuration. Additionally, the front fire screen panel can include similar pins that would mate with cooperating holes of the side fire screen panels. In an alternative embodiment, the pins can be secured to the side fire screen panels and the cooperating holes can be located on one or more flanges extending from the front and rear fire screen panels.

As shown in FIG. 13, preferably the front fire screen panel 116 is removably attached to the base 102 by a user. The front fire screen panel 116 can include one or more pins 220 located near its bottom edge (i.e., the edge near the base when the fire pit is constructed in its upright position) that can be inserted into one or more receivers 222 or channels attached to the base. For example, the front fire screen panel 116 can include a pair of pins 220 that rotate within a pair of cooperating, generally U-shaped receiver portions 222 or channels of the base 102. Thus, the front fire screen panel 116 also functions as a door for adding combustible material to the fire pit 100 because the panel can rotate about the pivot axis of the pins 220 in the receivers 222 of the base, thereby permitting the door to rotate open and closed. In an alternative embodiment, the front fire screen panel can include one or more tabs along a lower edge thereof that engage one or more cooperating slots of the base. In either embodiment, such removal of the front fire screen panel 116 is advantageous when the fire pit 100 is collapsed into its compact configuration, as preferably, the handle 120 of the front fire screen panel is placed towards the bottom of the base 102, thereby facilitating a compact arrangement.

Additionally, the fire pit 100 of the present invention includes a lid 220, as shown in FIG. 7, for use in the compact configuration of FIG. 14. When the fire screen panels 112, 114, 116, and 118 and top screen 130 are in the compact position within the base 102, the lid 220 can slide over the base and be secured thereto so as to provide a compact carrying case for securely containing the contents of the fire pit during transport and storage. Preferably, the lid 220 includes one or more locks or clasps 222 for securing the lid to the base 102 in the compact position. The handle 150 secured to the base 102 provides the user an easy way to carry the compact unit.

Thus, to configure the fire pit 100 from its compact arrangement, the user removes the lid 220 of the compact unit from the base 102. The user also unfolds the legs 104, 106, 108, and 110 from the base 102, if so desired, and sits the fire pit 100 on the desired surface. In a typical commercial embodiment, the removable front fire screen panel 116 is on top, so the user removes that panel. The user then lifts the top most fire screen panel up (typically a side fire screen panel) and rotates it about 90° and then slides the panel down until the catch 198 engages the shelf 206 with the lip 208. The user repeats these steps with the other side fire screen panel that is movably attached to the base. The user lifts up and rotates the rear fire screen panel 118 with top fire screen panel 130 attached thereto out and manipulates the side, rear, and top fire screen panels into position. The user positions the front fire screen panel 116 such that the handle 120 is located on the exterior of the fire pit, and slides the pins 220 of lower portion of the screen panel into the cooperating receivers 222 of the base 102. Once all four panels are erected, the user then manipulates the top screen 130 onto the upper ends of the generally upright fire screen panels, which prevents debris from getting into the fire. Once erected, the user can make a fire in the fire pit 100.

While the invention has been described with reference to preferred and example embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that a variety of modifications, additions and deletions are within the scope of the invention, as defined by the following claims.