Fire marshal offers safe grilling tips

LANSING — Because most grill fires occur in July, State Fire Marshal Richard Miller issued guidelines for safe grilling all season long.

“Always think safety first and use common sense before lighting up the grill,” Miller said. “Every year we tend to see an increase in the number of serious injuries caused by the careless use of grills resulting in fires.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year fire departments respond to an average of 7,700 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues.

“Gas grills aren’t any safer than other grills — in fact six out of seven grill fires involve a gas grill,” Miller said. “The leading contributing factor to these fires was a leak or break in hoses or other equipment, so maintenance is particularly important with gas grills to protect yourself and your family.”

Miller said that the popular gas grills are safe and convenient when used properly. It needs to be kept in mind that liquid propane (LP) gas is pressurized and requires special handling and storage. Charcoal grills are preferred by some people and can also be potentially dangerous when not used properly.

Follow these important tips for safe grilling:

Always grill outdoors. Never grill indoors or in the garage. Grills are not only a fire hazard they release carbon monoxide, the deadly, odorless, colorless gas;

Use grills on a level surface at least 10 feet away from the house, garage, deck, overhanging eaves, branches, hanging baskets and backyard furniture. Never use a grill on a balcony;

Keep children and pets well away from the grill area;

Keep a fire extinguisher close by and know how to use it; keep a spray bottle or bucket of water handy for minor flare ups;

Never leave the grill unattended;

Don’t overload the grill with food. Excessive fat and grease dripping on the flames can ignite large flare ups;

Clean grills by removing grease and fat buildup from the grill and trays below the grill;

Never try and fight a fire yourself. Call 911 and let the fire department do its job;


On a gas grill, check gas tank hoses for leaks before first use each year. Applying a light soap and water solution will reveal any leaking propane. Never use a match to check for leaks. If you detect a leak, turn off the gas immediately and don’t use the grill until it’s serviced by a professional;

Before filling an LP cylinder, check it for dents or gouges. Don’t overfill the cylinder;

Never turn on the gas when the lid is closed. The propane may build up inside and when ignited, the lid could blow off or a fireball can explode in your face;

If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call 911. Do not move the grill;

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;

When finished with the grill, turn off the barbecue burners and the propane cylinder;

For a charcoal grill, use only charcoal starter fluid, never gasoline or kerosene, to light the grill;

If using an electric charcoal starter, which does not use fire, use an extension cord for outdoor use; and

Let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container or soak partially cooled ashes completely in water before disposal.

To find out more information, visit the bureau of fire services at or call (517) 241-8847.


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