Salisbury Fire Department

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Summer season: peak time for grilling fires

As the warmer temperatures are upon us, backyard chefs everywhere are dusting off their grills, eager to spring into the long-awaited barbeque season. Holding a barbecue should be a safe and fun experience for everyone. The National Fire Protection Association(NFPA) recommends that grillers pay particular attention to safety in the spring and summer months when home fires involving grilling incidents occur most often.

Three out of five households own a gas grill, which translates to a lot of tasty meals. But it also means there’s an increased risk of home fires. Each year an average of 8,800 home fires are caused by grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While nearly half of the people who grill do so year-round, July is the peak month for grilling fires followed by May, June and August.

While gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts, everyone needs to be reminded that all types of grills pose a risk for fires and burn injuries. More than one-quarter (27 percent) of home structure grill fires started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, while 29 percent started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and six percent began in the kitchen.

“As we get outdoors to enjoy the warmer temperatures, grilling will become more active. Be sure your grill is working properly and review safety tips,”advises Tom Bowden, President of the Wicomico County Fire Chiefs Association. “It’s good practice to check for damage before using the grill for the first time each year. Propane gas hose leaks or breaks were the leading factors contributing to gas grill fires. Along with checking for hose damage, clean and check the entire grill regularly.” 

When grilling, the following safety tips are recommended:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors. Never use a barbecue indoors or in tents. This is a dangerous fire hazard and can cause high levels of carbon monoxide.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children, pets, and outdoor games at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Use long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grates and in the trays below.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Allow the barbecue to cool before attempting to move it.


This safety reminder brought to you by the Wicomico County Fire Chiefs Association.