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News > Fire department offers safety tips on grilling
Fire department offers safety tips on grilling

Posted 6/27/2012   Updated 6/27/2012 Email story   Print story


by James Palmer
Keesler fire prevention assistant chief

6/27/2012 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Every year dozens of people are injured and hundreds of fires are reported because of grilling accidents. With the growing popularity of outdoor cooking, the problem has the potential to get worse before it gets better.

Fire is one of the most destructive forces in the world, so if you are inviting it to your backyard for a cookout, you should take proper precautions. The first thing you need is a serviceable 2A-10 BC, 5-pound dry chemical fire extinguisher. Next, you need to know how to cut off the fuel supply, extinguish the fire and call the fire department. Always have an adult in charge of the fire at all times and never leave the grill or smoker unattended.

When it comes to out-of-control grill fires, identify the source of the fire. If the fire is in the grill itself then carefully turn off the control knob and let the fire die down. If the fire is under the grill and you can get to the fuel tank, turn off the tank. This should kill the fire immediately. If it does not, or if you cannot get to the tank valve, get away from the grill and call the fire department.

Charcoal presents its own risk due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Burning charcoal produces a lot of this gas. Charcoal grills are the cause of far more fires than gas grills.

The number one problem with charcoal grills is lighting the charcoal. Lightly soak your coals 15 minutes before lighting them. This allows the coals to ignite easily and burn evenly throughout the cooking period. Follow the instructions exactly on the container when lighting charcoal. Never attempt to relight charcoal while they are hot. Pouring lighter fluid onto hot coals causes the fluid to quickly vaporize. These vapors become extremely flammable and may explode.

In the event of a charcoal fire use the fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire. Never use water, it may splatter the fire and cause smaller fires. Remember the acronym PASS: pull the pin, aim the extinguisher, squeeze the handles together and sweep from side to side at the base of the fire.

When grilling, always select a proper location to place your grill or smoker. Every year hundreds of people cause fires to their houses, garages and patios because they don't put their grill or smoker in the correct location.

The Keesler Fire Department recommends placing all grills and smokers at least 25 feet away from any facility. Also, make sure that there are no trees at your location because the super heated air from a grill or smoker will dry out the leaves on a tree and may cause them to burn.

Always clean your grills and smokers before using them because grease builds up over time and fuels fire. It is easy to get several pounds of grease in the bottom of a grill or smoker after only a few cookouts.

When you are finished cooking for the day, make sure your grill or smoker is thoroughly cooled before you place it in storage. Do not discard the hot coals on the ground, in a trash can or in a dumpster. Hot coals will start a fire in these areas. Make sure they are saturated with water and cooled for at least 30 minutes before you discard them.

Remember, always have a fire extinguisher handy, select a safe distance away from a structure, soak charcoals before lighting, check your hose connections and report all fires to 911.

For more information, call (228) 377-3330/8440.

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