For Immediate Release - May 19, 2014

State Fire Marshal Offers Outdoor Grilling Safety Tips

Start the Summer Off Safely

“Memorial Day is the traditional launch of the summer barbecue season,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, “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 Coan. “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 Coan. He recommended checking for and replacing any cracked hoses.

Safety First

  • Grills should never be used indoors or on fire escapes.
  • Gas grills cannot be used on balconies above the first floor unless there is an exterior stairway to the ground.
  • Grills should be placed well away from the house (about ten feet), deck railings and out from underneath eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets three feet away from the grill area. Create a circle of safety.
  • Never leave your grill burning unattended.
  • Keep your 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 2013, there were 85 fires reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS) involving open fired grills. These incidents caused two civilian injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $300,000. Three-quarters (75%) of all grill fires occurred between May and September.

Place Grills Away from Buildings

Coan said, “Place grills well away from the exterior of the house to keep any grill fire from also igniting a building too. Last year, many of the grill fires started when the grill was placed right up against an exterior wall.”

At 4:30 p.m. on October 16, 2013, a gas grill on the rear porch ignited the exterior wall of a Braintree home, causing $100,000 in damages. No one was injured at this fire even though there were no smoke alarms and the home was not sprinklered.

On August 17, 2013, at 5:53 p.m., the Newton Fire Department was called to a gas grill fire at a single-family home. The grill was left unattended and ignited the exterior of the home. Damages from this fire were estimated to be $75,000.

On July 5, 2013, at 8:49 p.m., the Sandwich Fire Department responded to a fire at a single-family home that started when the charcoal grill on the porch ignited the exterior wall. One civilian was injured at this fire trying to put it out himself before calling the fire department. Damages from this fire were estimated to be $85,000.

On April 10, 2012, at 7:15 p.m., the Uxbridge Fire Department was called to a grill fire at a single-family home. The grill was on the back porch but was too close to the exterior wall of the home. The heat from the grill ignited the exterior wall and the fire spread to the attic. No one was injured at this fire. Detectors were present and alerted the occupants. The building was not sprinklered. Damages from the blaze were estimated to be $475,000.

Charcoal Grill Safety

Marshal Coan also said, “Safety must also be used around charcoal grills. “Once the coals have been lit, never add more 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 you always use charcoal grills outside in a well-ventilated area.” He added,” Be sure to let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.”