Fire department provides tips for safe grilling

  • Published
  • By Jerry Saslav
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- May in New England is a time to dust off the lawnmower, the summer sports gear, and the grill.

The Hanscom AFB Fire Department wants to remind you of a few simple steps to make this grilling season a safe one.

“A fire can happen anywhere and at any time,” said Lt. Casey Videtto, 66th Civil Engineering Division Fire Department fire prevention/life safety inspector.

Officials offer the following tips when using a grill:

  • Look for any signs of wear and tear or damage to outside grills.
  • If it’s a charcoal grill, make sure it is not rusted through, as a hot ember could slip through a hole and start a fire.
  • Only use approved charcoal lighter fluid, never gasoline or kerosene. Once the coals are lit or there are hot embers, never add more lighter fluid. This could cause the fluid to ignite and potentially cause serious damage or injury.
  • When using propane, check that all the connections are tight before turning on the gas. A way to check the condition of the hose and connections is to put a light coat of soapy water on them and turn on the gas. If you see bubbles, there is a leak that needs repair.
  • Make sure burners are clean and clear of debris.

“Be aware of the space that is around your grill,” said Videtto. “Be aware of the surface that you are grilling on.”

Many buildings on base have a bed of mulch around them. The mulch is made of wood, which can and does ignite, so don’t place grills on or near the mulch. Also, don’t grill under a tree, an awning, or a portable canopy. 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts states that outdoor cookers must be 10 feet from the side of any building unless authorized by the grill’s manufacturer. Also, they can only be used on a ground floor deck or porch.

“Don’t let your grill sit right up against your vinyl or wood siding,” said Videtto.

Heat from the grill can cause siding to catch on fire.

Another fuel source that ignites easily is food itself, primarily the fat.

Videtto recommends keeping your grill clean, cooking smaller amounts of food at the same time and over a lower temperature.

“If you have flames licking your chicken or your hamburgers, it’s more likely to ignite the fat,” said Videtto. “Fat ignites very quickly, and it flares and flashes very easily.”

In case a fire does occur, it’s recommended to have a fire extinguisher close by and close the grill lid as well as any vents that may be open. Closing the lid will eliminate the fire of its air supply and help extinguish it.

If using gas, when finished grilling, make sure the propane is turned off.

If using charcoal, douse with water and stir. This will ensure any hot embers are thoroughly extinguished. Let the wet charcoal cool off before disposing in the trash.

And finally, make sure children and pets stay away from outdoor barbecue cookers.

For more information, contact the Hanscom Fire Prevention Office at 781-225-5600.