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On Memorial Day, keep the fire on the grill


Mon, May 23rd 2016 01:10 pm

FASNY offers lifesaving BBQ and grilling tips for the holiday weekend 

By the Firemen's Association of the State of New York

With Memorial Day weekend swiftly approaching, families and friends will be gathering to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, and many will be dusting off and firing up their grills for the first time in months. The Firemen's Association of the State of New York urges all New Yorkers to follow some basic rules and tips to avoid accidents and injuries, and to remember to call for help if needed.

"Memorial Day is a time for reflection and commemoration," Firemen's Association of the State of New York President Robert McConville said. "We urge all New Yorkers to heed some basic barbecuing and grilling safety tips to minimize the potential for accidents during the holiday weekend. We hope that everybody has a happy, safe start to the summer."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an average of 8,900 home fires caused by grilling, with the peak months being May, June, July and August. The leading causes of grill fires included a failure to clean, having the grill too close to something flammable, and leaving the grill unattended. In 2014, 16,600 patients were sent to the emergency room after being injured by a grill.

FASNY offers the following safety tips to avoid accidents:

Before Barbecuing

  • Check your grill thoroughly for leaks, cracking or brittleness before using it.
  • Check the tubes leading to the burner regularly for blockages. Check your specific grill manufacturer's instructions.
  • Make sure the grill is at least 10 feet away from your house, garage or trees.
  • Store and use your grill on a large, flat surface that cannot burn (i.e., concrete or asphalt).
  • Don't use grills in a garage, on a porch, deck or on top of anything that can catch fire. Never use a propane barbecue grill on a balcony, terrace or roof (it is both dangerous and illegal).
  • Keep children away from fires and grills. It is a good idea to establish a safety zone around the grill and monitor children to remain outside the zone.
  • Before getting a propane cylinder filled, check for any damages to it.
  • Never transport or store propane cylinders in the trunk of your automobile.

During Barbecuing

  • Keep children away from the grill.
  • Don't wear loose clothing that might catch fire.
  • Do use long-handled barbecue tools and/or flame-resistant mitts.
  • Never use any flammable liquid other than a barbecue starter fluid to start/freshen a fire.
  • Never pour or squirt starter fluid onto an open flame. The flames can easily flash back along the fluid's path, to the container in your hands.
  • Keep alcoholic beverages away from the grill; they are flammable.
  • Never leave the grill unattended.

Barbecue Safely

  • When lighting your propane barbecue, make sure all the connections are secure and open the lid and strike your match or lighter before turning on the gas.
  • Always shut off the propane fuel at the grill and at the bottle after you have finished barbecuing. Otherwise, this will lead to fire hazards, such as leaks and faulty regulators.
  • Do store your barbecue grill and propane cylinder outdoors.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the safe use, cleaning and maintenance of your grill.
  • Test your cylinder for leaks on a regular basis. When testing for leaks, never use matches or an open flame. Use soapy water or a leak detector.
  • Do store your cylinder away from heat and insert a safety plug on the valve.

After Barbecuing

  • Always follow the manufacturer's cleaning and storing instructions that accompany the grill.
  • Keep your grill clean and free of grease buildup that may lead to a fire.
  • Never store liquid or pressurized fuels inside your home and/or near any possible sources of flame.

In Case of a Barbecue Fire

  • For propane grills, turn off the burners. For charcoal grills, close the grill lid. Disconnect the power to electric grills.
  • For propane grills, if you can safely reach the tank valve, shut it off.
  • If the fire involves the tank, leave it alone, evacuate the area and call the fire department.
  • If there is any type of fire that either threatens your personal safety or endangers property, always call the fire department.
  • Never attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water. It will only cause the flames to flare up. Use an approved portable fire extinguisher.


Founded in 1872, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York represents the interests of nearly 100,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York. For more information, visit www.fasny.com.

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