It’s Great To Be Home . . .

a homebody’s guide to home renovation and more

Fire Fighting March 5, 2009

A new propane grill was the hubby’s Christmas present this year (we’re not usually that extravagant, but we thought we’d splurge so that we could enjoy it in the new house).  He’s been a grilling dynamo over the past month or so, braving cold weather out of dedication to his craft and producing some pretty tasty meals.  The hubby and I grilled out for his birthday on Friday night – steaks, grilled veggies, and grilled peaches – sounds delicious, right?  It probably would have been, if it hadn’t been for our grilling mishap!

Weber Grill


The drip pan for our grill caught on fire.  I’m talking actual flames – and no delicious grilled dinner after all.  While it may be a funny story now, it was actually really dangerous and could have ended badly.  Take note of these grilling tips to make sure that you stay safe the next time you fire up your grill (figuratively speaking, of course!):


1.  Check your connections.  As gross as it may sound, the tubes that lead to your grill’s burners can get clogged with bugs or grease.  Just swirl a pipe cleaner around in the tubes to make sure that they’re clear – this will push any blockage through to the main part of the burner where it can be discarded.  Also, make sure that all of the tubes and hoses connected to your grill are in good condition – if they’re cracked or leaking, replace them before you use the grill.


2.  Keep it outside.  I know, sometimes you get a hankering for some tasty grilled food when it’s still freezing outside.  Resist the temptation to bring your grill into your garage or home, as that is a serious no-no – if a fire starts, your whole house could go down in flames.  Instead, either brave the cold outside or use a handy indoor grill pan or countertop grill.


3.  Check for leaks.  Each grill should come with manufacturer’s instructions that will tell you how to detect a gas leak, although you will most likely smell a gas leak.  One way to check for leaks is to apply a light soapy water solution to the hose connecting the propane tank to the grill – if you see bubbles then you’ve got a leak.  If you see bubbles or smell gas, turn off the gas and leave it off until the leak has been fixed by a qualified appliance repair person.  If you smell gas while cooking, call the fire department.

FYI:  According to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it is required that all grills manufactured after October 1, 1995 must have these three safety features that will decrease the chance of an explosion in the event of a gas leak:  (1)  a device to limit the flow of gas in the event of hose rupture; (2) a mechanism to shut-off the grill; and (3) a feature to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between the tank and the grill is not leak proof. 


4.  Play by the rules.  Your grill came with instructions for a reason – so use them!!   


5.  Stick around.  Grills make cooking so easy that it’s almost like the food cooks itself – but that doesn’t mean that you can leave the grill alone!!  The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission says that most grill fires occur when a grill has been left alone for a period of time.  We noticed the fire in our drip pan after we had left the grill alone for a few minutes while we got the steaks ready – and we definitely learned our lesson.  


6.  Give it some room.  When picking a home for your grill, make sure that there is at least 10 feet between your grill and anything else, like shrubs, your home, or your fence.  This will decrease the chance of a fire spreading. 


7.  Keep it clean.  Debris and grease are a recipe for a grill fire.  Keep your grill clean, including its drip pan, to reduce the risk of fire.  While it’s not necessary to clean the drip pan after every use, you should keep an eye on it and clean it once grease or fat has started to build up in the drip pan.


8.  Water is not your friend.  If a fire does start in your grill, make sure that you know how to put out the fire.  Start by turning off the gas to avoid adding more fuel to the fire.  Then, make sure you keep the lid of the grill closed – introducing air into the fire can increase the intensity of the fire.  If the lid is already open, smother the fire with baking soda or a dry chemical fire extinguisher and close the lid.  It is really important to remember that water should never be used to put out a grease fire, as pouring water on the fire will cause the grease to splash around and spread the fire, possibly onto you.  If the fire is not quickly extinguished, call the fire department.


Now that you know how to grill safely, click here to take a quick quiz to test your general fire know-how.  And grill on, fellow grillers!!


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