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New Rules for Grilling at Multi-Family Residences

As Ohioans prepare for barbecues over the holiday weekend and beyond, State Fire Marshal Stephen K. Woltz urges families across the state to take safety precautions when using their gas grills. In addition, citizens living in multi-family dwellings must follow new regulations regarding open-flame cooking devices presented in the 2005 Ohio Fire Code.

Under these new regulations, the operation of a charcoal burner, gas grill, or any other open-flame cooking device is prohibited on decks and balconies of multi-family structures larger than a duplex, unless they are protected with an automatic sprinkler system. In addition, these devices should hot be used anywhere within 10 feet of combustible construction, including nearby walls, overhangs, patio fences, railings, or the deck above your own deck or patio.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA,) half of all gas and charcoal grill fires begin on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch.

Please note these rules do not prevent the use of cooking devices on the decks of single-family and two-family dwellings. However, it is recommended to everyone to keep the grill on a flat surface at least 10 feet from any home or building.

"Family barbecues are a great way to celebrate the holiday," said Marshal Woltz. "By following the rules of safety, Ohioans can ensure a celebration does not turn into a situation endangering lives and property."

Most gas barbecue grills are fueled by Liquefied Petroleum (LP) gas or propane. Unburned LP gas accidentally released or leaking from a gas grill can cause a dangerous fire or explosion. Problems that lead to fires or explosions commonly occur at two times: during the first use of a grill after a long period of storage and when a new cylinder of propane gas is attached to the grill.

Marshal Woltz asks grill users to exercise the following precautionary measures when using gas grills:

  • Inspect grills closely prior to the first summertime use.
  • Check the metal tubes that lead directly to the burner. During storage, insects can block these tubes. They can be cleaned following the manufacturer's instructions, typically by using a pipe cleaner or wire to remove any blockage.
  • Check hoses for cracks or holes and replace any hose that appears to be damaged. Remove any sharp bends that you find in the hose.
  • Follow your grill manufacturer's instructions for checking the connection to the cylinder every time a new cylinder is connected to the grill. (An easy way to do this is to tighten the connection and then apply a soapy water solution around the connection. If bubbles appear, the connection is leaking. Turn the cylinder off, reconnect the cylinder, and check again.)
  • Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the grill yourself.
  • Never attempt to connect a cylinder to a grill unless they have matching connections.
  • If you smell gas, turn the grill off immediately and do not use it until the problem can be corrected.
  • Keep your grill on a flat level surface 10 feet away from any building. A grill should not be used inside or under a carport or breezeway. Never use a grill indoors.
  • Do not move a grill that is in use.
  • Always open the lid of a grill before igniting it with an electric igniter.

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