BBQ grills source of structure fires

GRFD offers tips to avoid the accidental spread of flames while grilling.
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Photo Courtesy of Grand Rapids Professional Fire Fighters L366.

The Grand Rapids Fire Department has had a very busy week responding to structure fires within the city that have caused more than $330,000 in damage.

Over a three-day period firefighters were called to battle three separate fires. While no injuries were reported, 13 people were displaced due to the fires that resulted in the loss of two homes and a garage. The people affected by the fires are presently being assisted by the American Red Cross for temporary housing needs.

The one thing that two of the fires had in common is that they involved BBQ grills.

To raise awareness of the risks of outdoor grilling, Grand Rapids Fire Captain Bill Smith issued a statement today that included these National Fire Protection Association statistics:

In the U.S. gas grills were involved in an average of 9,079 home fires per year, including 4,454 structure fires and 4,625 outdoor fires annually. Leaks or breaks were primarily a problem with gas grills. As many as 9% of gas grill structure fires and 15% of outside gas grill fires were caused by leaks or breaks. Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills are involved in 1,440 home fires per year, including 754 structure fires and 686 outside fires annually.

According to Smith, three recent fires that involved BBQ grills were located in the 30 Block of Elm (this morning at 02:05 a.m.); 800 Block of Dickinson (June 7, around 10 p.m.) and another on April 10 in the 1000 block of Emerald N.E.

The GRFD Fire Prevention Division recommends, if grilling:

  • Keep a three-foot “safe zone” around your Grill.
  • Make sure all connections and hoses are in good repair and not leaking prior to use.
  • Don’t use a grill on a combustible (wood, synthetic) deck.
  • Keep grills at least 10 feet away from structures.
  • Open your gas grill prior to lighting.
  • Never leave any grill unattended while it is in operation.
  • Guard grill to prevent contact from pets and children.
  • Clean your grill after each use, this will remove grease accumulation that can start a fire.
  • Make sure any grease traps in your appliance are also cleaned periodically.
  • Discard coals from your grill in a metal can with a lid once they have cooled.  The container should be placed away from combustible, flammable materials.

    Smith said that the cause of another fire that occurred in the 1100 block of Prospect Avenue S.E. did not involve a BBQ grill.

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