Fire in the grill, under hot dogs and burgers, is a welcome sight at the family cookout. But fire anywhere else can make your summer kick-off barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Because gas and charcoal grills cause an average of 1,500 structure fires and 4,800 outdoor fires in or on home properties, the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) offers these sensible outdoor grilling tips to help you keep your cookout safe and fun.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Grilling Information
The following regulations apply to the use of portable charcoal and gas operated cooking grilles on or within a building or structure and includes balconies, fire escapes, porches, and roofs as a part thereof:
The Bedford Fire Department recommends against the use of portable charcoal cooking grilles on or within a building or structure for the following reasons:
- Improper use of starter fuel resulting in burns to individuals.
- Numerous fire safety complaints by persons within or near the building.
- Wind velocity affecting open flame.
- Fire hazard conditions high or extreme.
- Fire Department response due to persons observing assumed building fire from a distance and/or reports of smoke odor from an assumed building fire in the area.
- Lack of attendance resulting in unwarranted smoke pollution.
- Danger of explosive gas build up.
Gas Operated Grills
State regulations prohibit the use or storage of liquefied petroleum gas containers used for barbecue cooking inside or on balconies above the first floor of any building or structure used for habitation, including small propane containers attached to portable cooking grills.
NFPA guidelines state propane containers should be located in areas where there is free air circulation, at least 3 feet from building openings (such as windows and doors), and at least 5 feet from air intakes of air conditioning and ventilating systems.
Under no circumstances shall gas or charcoal grills be used on fire escapes or fire escape balconies!
General Safety Tips
It always pays for consumers to be aware that following a few simple safety precautions will help ensure that their outdoor cooking remains trouble-free and enjoyable.
- LP Grills are not permitted inside or on balconies above the first floor of any building or structure used for habitation.
- Always locate a barbecue away from any combustible wall.
- Set up grill in an open area away from buildings, dry leaves or brush. Be aware of the wind blowing sparks.
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
- Place grill on a level surface away from low hanging trees, deck railings, siding or any combustible materials.
- It’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher within handy reach.
- Use long handled barbecue tools and flame retardant mitts.
- Do not wear loose clothing and watch for dangling apron strings and shirt tails.
- NEVER leave children or pets unattended near a hot grill.
- Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
- Declare the entire grill area a "kid-free zone" until the grill has completely cooled off.
- Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.
Gas Grill Safety
Gas grills are safe and convenient appliances when assembled and used properly. Gas grills bring into play another element, Liquid Propane (LP). LP gas is pressurized and requires special handling and storage. These few tips will make all of your barbecues safe and enjoyable.
- Before having an LP cylinder filled, check it for dents, gouges or other signs of disrepair.
- When having a cylinder filled, it is important to make sure that the cylinder is not overfilled.
- Check and make sure all connections are tight BEFORE turning on the gas. Leaks can be detected by dabbing the connections with a solution of soapy water and turning on the gas momentarily. If bubbles occur, there is a leak and it must be fixed before the grill is used.
- Never store a spare LP cylinder under or near a barbecue, heat source or open flame.
- Never ignite a gas grill with the lid closed. The propane may accumulate inside, and when ignited, the lid could blow off.
- Store extra cylinders outdoors in a shaded area.
- ALWAYS insert the POL safety plug into the LP cylinder valve outlet when not hooked up to the grill.
- When the LP cylinder is connected, the grill must be kept outside in a well-vented space. Never use gas grills inside a house, garage or any enclosed area, because carbon monoxide may accumulate and could cause serious injury or death.
- If you have a propane grill, check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. Have leaking fuel lines repaired before using.
- All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
- When finished with the grill, turn off the barbecue burners and the propane cylinder.
- The pressure relief valve will release propane if the pressure inside the cylinder becomes too great. Pressure varies according to temperature, regardless of the amount of propane inside.