Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grills Gone Wild!

8,800The number of home fires involving grills each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  That's one home fire an hour.

$96 million - The average property loss caused by grill fires each year.  

16,900 The number of people visiting emergency rooms in 2012 due to grill-sourced fires.  

These numbers are staggering! And building fires started by grills are not restricted to just the summer months - every month of the year sees homes destroyed due to grill fires.  While the majority of these fires are gas-fueled, charcoal-type grills are the cause of over one-sixth of the fires, and even electric grills cause 100 fires each year (thanks to exposed wiring or inflamed grease).

Because of the danger, many cities and counties ban the presence of grills in multi-family dwellings.  While you're welcome to risk you own home, if it is attached to other homes (apartments and town homes), or is part of a condominium (responsible for maintaining the building structure on behalf of the owner), endangering others is frowned upon.  

What to do if you already own a grill, which is resting comfortably out on the patio?  If a professionally installed fire suppression system (sprinklers) extends out over the patio area, often the fire marshal (and the insurance agent) will permit the grill to stay.  A possible option is to have the fuel source stored in a fire-resistance rated room.  Depending on various factors, this room must be able to contain fire for two, three, or even four hours.  Very few residential buildings meet this requirement.

As an alternative, communities may build a fire-rated building out on the commons, or may install grills on concrete pads, well away from all buildings.  Note that most bans do not extend to electric grills.  After discussing the above information with your neighbors, everyone may decide to convert to non-fuel (i.e. electric) cooking.  Just watch out for gas grills mysteriously sprouting power cords overnight!

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