• Grilling Safety
    Updated On: Sep 03, 2017

    Grilling Safety Tips

    With Labor Day now here, the Malden Firefighters would like to remind everyone take a few minutes to safely inspect gas 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. 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. It is also recommended to check for and replace any cracked hoses.

    Safety First

    • Always grill outdoors.
    • Place grills away from the house and deck railings. Make sure grills are not under eaves or overhanging branches.
    • You should not use a gas or charcoal grill on any porch or balcony. Electric grills that have no open flame may be used.
    • Gas grills can be used on first floor decks or patios, only if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground, or it is at ground level.
    • Grills should never be used indoors or on fire escapes.
    • Keep all matches, lighters and lighter fluid away from children.
    • Keep children and pets three feet away from grills. Create a circle of safety. Children should never play near grills.

    Grill Fire Facts
    In 2014, there were 103 fires reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS) involving open fire grills. These incidents caused five civilian injuries, two firefighter injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $1.4 million. Eighty-one percent (81%) of all grill fires occurred between May and September.

    On the evening of March 8, 2014, the Gardner Fire Department responded to a building fire in a single-family home. A portable gas grill was being used in the carport and ignited the home. No one was injured in this fire. There were no sprinklers and damages were estimated to be $100,000.

    On June 30, 2014, at 10:06 p.m., the Boston Fire Department responded to a building fire in a 4-story, 9-unit apartment building. The fire was started on a roof deck by a portable gas grill and extended to the roof deck of the building next door. Neither building was sprinklered and damages were estimated to be $550,000.

    On the afternoon of July 15, 2014, the West Springfield Fire Department responded to a fire in a 2-family home started by a portable gas grill igniting a structural component of the home. One civilian and one firefighter were hurt at this fire. Smoke alarms were present, but failed to operate because of dead batteries. The home did not have any sprinklers and damages from this fire were estimated to be $115,000.

    Gas Grill Care and Maintenance
    Gas grills are safe and convenient when they are assembled and used properly. Gas grills are fueled by liquid propane which is pressurized and requires special handling and storage.

    • Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for the care and maintenance of your gas grill.
    • Check that 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 that must be fixed before the grill is used. Do not use matches or lighters to check for leaks.
    • Check the tubes to the burners for blockages resulting from insect nests or from grease; use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockages.
    • Clean the grease trap every time you grill.
    • Replace propane cylinders that are old, rusty, or showing any other signs of disrepair.

    Cooking with Gas Safely

    • Make sure that the lid of a gas grill is open when you light it. Propane can build up inside and when ignited, the lid may blow off.
    • If the flame goes out while the gas is on, turn off the gas and wait 15 minutes before relighting.
    • If you smell gas while cooking, turn off and get away from the grill. Call 911 from a safe location. Do not move the grill.
    • Always turn off the burners and close the propane cylinder when done cooking.
    • Never leave a burning grill unattended.

    Charcoal Grills
    Propane is the most common grilling fuel, but many people use charcoal grills. Here are some charcoal grill safety tips:

    • Use only charcoal starter fluid. Gasoline and kerosene should not be used to start a fire in a grill. Never add lighter fluid to burning briquettes or hot coals. Doing so may cause a flash fire and result in serious burn injuries.
    • Charcoal briquettes give off carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly. Always use charcoal grills in a well-ventilated area. Never use charcoal grills indoors.
    • For proper disposal of grill ashes, allow the coals to burn out completely and then cool for 48 hours before disposal.
    • If you must dispose of ashes before they are completely cooled, thoroughly soak them in water before putting them in a metal container.

    On the afternoon of August 23, 2014, the Wareham Fire Department was dispatched to a single-family home for a building fire. The owner’s charcoal grill ignited the rear exterior wall of the house and damaged most of the home. The 84-year old woman was transported to a local hospital for smoke inhalation. Smoke alarms were present and alerted the occupants. The building was not sprinklered and damages were estimated to be $200,000.

    Information was provided courtesy of the MA Dept of Fire Services, www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/dfs/

    City of Malden Ordinances


    A. Any barbecue grilles are to be placed outside buildings in an area clear of heavy grass and brush when in use. They must be at least 5 feet (5') away from any structure and away from any overhead hazards such as tree branches, awnings, clotheslines, etc.

    B. Charcoal is to be ignited only by charcoal lighter fluid or electricity.

    C. Barbecue grilles are not permitted on porches, rooftops or balconies when in use. Storage or use of liquid propane gas containers above the first floor of a building used for habitation is prohibited.

    D. Any barbecue grille is not to be left unattended at any time while in use.

    E. Upon completion of use of a charcoal grille, charcoal or charcoal briquettes are to be thoroughly extinguished.

    F. A permit must be obtained from the Malden Fire Department for the use and storage of propane.

    G. The use of a barbecue grille may be prohibited by the Chief of the Malden Fire Department, in his discretion, for failure to comply with any provision of this section, for any conduct which constitutes a violation of the laws of the City of Malden, or in the event the use thereof will cause a dangerous or hazardous condition. Failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall be punishable by fines and penalties as set forth in Section 1.13

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