For Immediate Release - May 22, 2017

Get Fired Up for Grilling Safety

State Fire Marshal Offers Outdoor Grilling Safety Tips

“Memorial Day is the traditional launch of the summer barbecue season,” said 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
“Recent changes to the State Fire Code clarify under what conditions it is safe to use grills on decks, balconies and patios,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. 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. 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 now clarifies that grills must be 10-feet away from the side of the building, unless the manufacturer instructions specifically state it can be used closer.

Last Memorial Day weekend, a gas grill ignited the exterior wall of a Boston 2-family home and quickly spread causing $500,000 in damages.

On July 7, 2016, heat from a gas grill ignited the exterior wall of a detached garage in Lowell causing $4,000 in damages.

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
Between 2012 and 2016, there were 487 fires reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS) involving grills, hibachis and barbecues. These incidents caused 22 civilian injuries, three firefighter injuries, and $4.5 million in property damage.

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.

In Lenox last May, a man was having trouble lighting the gas grill on a rear deck. Thinking it was empty, he attempted to remove the propane tank, heard a hiss and a pop and then the propane ignited. He suffered burns on his forearm and head. Damages are estimated at $2,000.

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.”

This spring, a Braintree man severely burned himself when he added gasoline to the charcoal grill on his deck. Fortunately the sliding doors to the house were closed, which prevented the fire from immediately entering the home.