Fire officials offer grill safety tips

Jun. 02, 2014 @ 05:12 PM

As summer nears, more Durham residents will be using their outdoor grills, and fire officials want the experience to be a safe one.

According to Fire Marshal Edward Reid of the Durham Fire Department, more than 30 percent of home grilling fires start on a balcony or unenclosed porch.

“These types of fire incidents can happen almost anywhere and to anyone too close to heat sources, but are more likely to happen in apartment complexes where balconies and decks are extremely close to buildings and other combustible materials,” Reid said. “It’s important for residents to only operate grills at least 10 feet from balconies and other combustibles to help prevent fire incidents.”

The department offers these additional grilling safety tips:

- Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.

- Use grills well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and over-hanging branches.

- Keep children and pets away from the grill area.

- Never leave your grill unattended.

- If you experience a burn, never use butter or anything other than cool water on it. If severe enough, seek medical attention.

Here are tips when using a charcoal grill:

- If using a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid and never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.

- Keep all fluids out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

- When you’re finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

- When extinguishing the charcoal grill, put the fire out completely. Dispose of cold ashes by wrapping them in heavy-duty aluminum foil and putting them in a non-combustible container. Be sure there are no other combustible materials in or near the container.

Tips for gas grills:

- Make sure there are no gas leaks by rubbing soapy water onto the gas hose and turning the gas on. If there is a leak, you will see bubbles. Do not ignite the grill. Buy a new hose before using the grill again.

- When shutting down your gas grill, cut off  the propane tank or natural-gas main shut-off valve and then shut off the burner control valves. This prevents residual gas from being left in the system under pressure.

For more information, contact public education coordinator Sierra Mckoy with the Durham Fire Department at 919-560-4233, ext. 19242 or by email at