Grilling Safety

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grillAccording to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics, in 2013-2017, fire departments in the United States responded to an average of 10,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues, each year. This includes an average of 4,500 structure fires and 5,700 outside or unclassified fires. On average, these fires resulted in 10 deaths, 160 injuries, and $123 Million in property damage, each year.

Peak months for grilling fires are July, followed by June, May, and August. The leading causes of home grilling fires include:

  • Failing to properly clean the grill
  • Leaks or breaks (gas grills)
  • Having a flammable object too close to the grill
  • Unattended cooking

Tips for enjoying a fire-safe grilling season:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

Charcoal Grills

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. 

Propane Grills

Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the 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 move the grill. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.


Contact the Fire Marshal Division of the Dorchester County Fire Rescue Department at (843) 563-0214.