2009-07-31 / Top Stories

FDNY Fire Safety Education Unit Demonstrates Barbeque Safety Tips

The FDNY Fire Safety Education Unit recently held a demonstration of barbecue safety rules and tips at Fort Totten, Queens. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that there are 7,900 home fires each year involving barbecues and grills. These fires result in an annual average of 10 deaths, 120 reported injuries and over $80 million in property damage.

"During the summer months, there is an increased risk of fire associated with the use of barbecues and outdoor cooking," said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. "Following these guidelines will make sure you have a safe and fun time at the grill."

• According to New York City law, barbecues on residential property must not be operated within 10 feet of any flammable material (garage, trees, etc.) and there must be a garden type hose attached to a water supply or at least a 4 gallon pail of water or sand available for use if needed.

• Barbecues are designed for outdoor use only. Do not use a barbecue in a garage, house, tent or trailer as dangerous levels of carbon monoxide may accumulate.

• Never use a barbecue on a deck, or on top of or too close to anything that can catch fire. Be sure to store your barbecue on a large flat surface that cannot burn, such as asphalt or concrete.

• Charcoal barbecue grills can be used on a balcony or terrace only if there is a 10-foot clearance from the building and there is a garden type hose attached to a water supply or at least a 4-gallon pail of water available for use if needed.

• NEVER use a propane barbecue grill with tanks larger than 16.4 ounces on a balcony, terrace or roof. It is illegal and very dangerous.

• Propane barbecue grills and no more than two 20-pound propane tanks are allowed on the grounds of a one or two family home. Never store liquid or pressurized fuels inside your home, in direct sunlight or near any possible sources of flame. Always store them in the upright position.

• Before using any barbecue, check it for leaks, cracks or brittleness that could undermine its integrity.

• Never leave a lit grill unattended.

• Instruct children to stay clear and not play near the barbecue.

• Wear clothing with short or tight fitting sleeves while grilling and use long handled tools and flame resistant mitts.

• Never use any flammable liquid to start a fire other than lighting fluid. Never squirt fluid directly into a flame as this could cause a flashback.

• Always follow the barbecue manufacturer's guidelines for cleaning and storing your grill. Built up grease left unchecked can lead to a fire.

In the event of a barbecue fire:

• If the fire is threatening your personal safety or endangering property, call 911 immediately and evacuate the area

• For propane grills, if you can safely reach the tank valve, shut it off and turn off the burners.

• For charcoal grills, close the lid.

• Never try to extinguish a grease fire with water; it will cause the flames to flare up. Use a portable fire extinguisher on grease fires.

For more guidelines specific to charcoal, propane and electric grills, please visit www.nyc.gov/fdny.

Last year, the FDNY Fire Safety Education Unit instructed more than 660,000 New Yorkers how to protect against fires at home at more than 9,300 fire safety presentations. These presentations, by active and retired FDNY members, take place at schools, community centers, street fairs, senior centers, and religious institutions to teach critical lessons about fire safety, often in the native language of residents. The Office of Fire Safety Education speaker's bureau can be reached at 718-281-3870 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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