Grilling season: Springfield Fire Department offers tips to stay safe

2022-06-24 00:24:16 By : Ms. Ada Chen

As Memorial Day approaches, Springfield Fire Department’s Community Risk Reduction Division Chief Jeff Prior reminds people to be safe when it comes to enjoying summer.

According to the National Fire Prevention Agency, grills started on average 10,600 home fires per year from 2014 to 2018, but Prior also encouraged safety around outdoor recreational fires — firepits or bonfires.

"We see (outdoor recreational fires) more than cooking fires outdoors," Prior said. "As far as the safety concerns with that, make sure somebody stays with it the whole time, and it’s 25 feet away from any combustible structures and there’s a means to extinguish it readily available."

Those with a propane or gas grill should make sure it's safe before starting it up for the first time.

Spray or brush a combination of soap and water onto the propane hose. If there is a leak in the hose, you will see bubbles. 

If your grill has a gas leak, turn off the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill looked at by a professional before continuing. If leak does not stop, call the fire department.

Grills should only be used outside, and should be at least 10 feet away from any structures, in a place clear of leaves, toys and other debris.

"If it is your first time grilling this year, make sure all the combustibles around it are cleared, whether it's leaves, yard debris, plastic or toys," Prior said.

If you live in an apartment, you are not allowed to grill on your balcony or patio.

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When it comes to starting up the grill, both gas and charcoal grills have specific safety precautions that should be followed.

Open the lid before you light a gas grill, since a closed lid can cause gas to build up.

You can use a chimney starter, starter fluid or an electric starter for a charcoal grill. If you use starter fluid, only use charcoal fluid. Do not add starter fluid to a fire.

To prevent injuries to yourself or others, children and pets should stay at least 3 feet away from the grill at all times, and the grill should never be left unattended.

If you smell gas at any time while using your propane grill, get away from the grill and call 911.

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Prevent flare-ups on the grill by removing grease and fat buildup from the grill and the trays below the grill.

When you're finished grilling with charcoal, let it cool completely before disposing of the charcoal in a metal container with a lid — not in the trash.

From 2014 to 2018, fires involving grills caused an average of 10 deaths, 160 injuries and $149 million in property damage per year, according to the NFPA. 

"We want you to have a fun and safe holiday weekend," Prior said. "We don't want any injuries or property damage or loss, so any proactive steps that you can take to ensure that (doesn't) happen would be our best suggestion."

Susan Szuch is the health and public policy reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter @szuchsm. Story idea? Email her at