NFPA reminds cooks to include fire safety in grilling recipes this season

Published on May 22, 2008
Attention to safety can prevent thousands of home fires caused by grills
May 22, 2008 - Fire safety is an essential ingredient in any recipe that calls for cooking on an outdoor grill. In 2005, fire departments responded to an estimated 8,300 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues, according to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report. These fires caused $137 million in direct property damage.

“The last thing anyone wants to do when grilling is to create a situation that ends with a home or something else on the property catching fire,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. “Taking steps to keep grills a safe distance away from kids, pets, and things that can burn like branches, deck railings, and overhangs will help prevent home fires and injuries caused by grills.”

Six out of seven home grill fires involved a gas grill and the leading contributing factor was a leak or break in hoses or other equipment. The leading factor in charcoal grill fires was something that could burn too close to the grill.

For general grilling safety tips, audio clips, statistical information, and a slide show on how to prepare your gas grill for grilling, visit

Audio Slideshow

Gas grilling safety
NFPA's Principal Gas Engineer Ted Lemoff has some food for thought.
NFPA offers the following safety tips.
  • Gas and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area: declare a three-foot "kid-free zone" around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Charcoal Grills

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of reach of children, and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

Gas Grills

  • Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. If you determine your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame:
    • Turn off the gas tank and grill.
    • If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
    • If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
  • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.
  • Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

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NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275