With grilling season just around the corner, it’s never too early to think about the hazards of outdoor grilling.
Multifamily dwellings, like apartment buildings, are especially vulnerable to grill fires because residents are likely to use their grills near the building on balconies, patios, and decks. Even with the increased risk, it seems that year after year barbecue grills reappear in these places for another season of outdoor cooking.
Potential fire hazards
It’s never too early to educate your tenants about the potential fire hazards associated with barbecue grills (whether propane, natural gas, or charcoal) and other open-flame devices including:
- Windblown grill embers near structures, especially wooden roofs.
- Careless disposal of charcoal embers.
- Igniting lighter fluid under porch overhangs.
- Leaving unattended grills that may tip over.
- Grilling in close proximity to structures or combustibles such as draperies and window coverings around open doors or windows.
- The potential for failure of component parts, gas leaks, blocked tubes, cracked and brittle hoses, and overfilled propane tanks.
Landlords and tenants alike can benefit from the following safety recommendations regarding the use of charcoal or gas grills and open-flame devices near multifamily dwellings. These standards are based on codes from the National Fire Protection Association and the 2000 International Building Code.
Establish a safe grilling area or consider installing fixed grills at an appropriate distance away from buildings for resident use.
Inform all residents and prospective residents, in writing, that the use and storage of charcoal or gas barbecue grills and open-flames devices (clay chimneys and clay/copper fire pits) is prohibited on decks, balconies, garages, kitchens, or any other location near a building. (Exception: electric barbecue grills bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory, Inc.)
Enforce safety recommendations by incorporating into leases and covenants language prohibiting the use and storage of barbecue grills and open-flame devices within 10 feet of any structure or outside of designated areas.