State Fire Officials Offer Grill Safety Tips

STOW, MA — “Getting fired up for grilling season?” asks State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, “Take a few minutes for safety and inspect grills for leaks and cracks, and teach children to stay three feet away from any grill in use.”

Check for Leaks
“Check to make sure all the connections are tight and secure before firing up the gas grill for the first time this season,” said Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “Using a brush, apply a soapy solution made of one part dish liquid and one part water to the tank connection. If the solution bubbles, you have a leak that needs repair,” said Ostroskey. He recommended checking for and replacing any cracked hoses.

Rules Changed on Grills on Porches, Decks and Patios
“Grills can only be used on first floor porches, decks, or patios if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground, or the porch is at ground level. Grills are prohibited on any porch, balcony or deck that has a roof, or overhang,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. For more information, contact your local fire prevention office.

Place Grills Away from Buildings
Ostroskey said, “Place grills well away from the exterior of the house to keep any grill fire from also igniting a building. Last year, many of the grill fires started when the grill was placed right up against an exterior wall.” The State Fire Code requires grills to be 10-feet away from the side of the building, unless the manufacturer instructions specifically state it can be used closer.

On the evening of August 20, 2017, the Woburn Fire Department responded to a grill fire on the rear deck of a single-family home. The fire caused $500,000 in damages.

On May 19, 2017, at 1:28 p.m., the Stoneham Fire Department responded to a fire in a 2-family home. The gas grill had ignited the nearby plastic patio furniture. A man was injured trying to put the fire out himself. Damages were estimated to be $10,000.

On the morning of July 2, 2017, at 11:23 a.m., a gas grill fire in the backyard of a Sharon home damaged the valves on two nearby 20lbs propane cylinders. Firefighters were able to cool the two propane cylinders while the tanks were drained. Damages were estimated to be $5,000.

Safety First

  • Read and follow the owner’s manual.
  • Always grill outdoors.
  • Place grills 10-feet away from the house. Make sure they are not under eaves, overhanging branches or against the side of the building. Keep them away from deck railings.
  • Grills can be used on open (no roof) first floor porches, decks or patios if there is an exterior stairway to the ground, or it is at ground level.
  • Grills should never be used indoors or on fire escapes.
  • Keep children and pets three feet away from the grill area. Create a circle of safety.
  • Never leave a grill burning unattended.
  • Keep the grill clean by removing grease or fat build-up from the grills and trays below the grill.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
  • If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait 15 minutes before relighting.
  • Never use gasoline on any grill!

Grill Fire Facts
In 2017, there were 85 fires reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS) involving open fire grills. These incidents caused 3 civilian injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $681,910. Forty percent of these grill fires extended to a building.

Shut Off the Gas at the Tank
After each use, and before disconnecting the propane tank, be sure to shut off the gas at the tank.

Charcoal Grill Safety
Marshal Ostroskey also said, “Practice safety around charcoal grills.” Once the coals have been lit, never add lighter fluid to the fire – flames may travel up the stream of lighter fluid resulting in serious burns. Charcoal briquettes give off carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly. “Make sure to always use charcoal grills outside in a well-ventilated area,” he added,” Let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container.” Charcoal grills cannot be used on decks, balconies, or fire escape stairways.

(NOTE: The above press release is from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.)

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