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City of Little Rock Public Relations
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Contact(s):Assistant Chief Don Kinney

Thursday, May 29, 2008


(Little Rock, AR – Thursday, May 29, 2008) As summer approaches and more people are cooking outdoors, the Little Rock Fire Department reminds residents about grilling safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), gas and charcoal grills cause an average of 900 home structure fires and 3,500 home outdoor fires each year. Half of all gas and charcoal grill fires begin on an exterior balcony or unenclosed porch, so it is important to grill outside, well away from your home.

The 2006 International Fire Code states in SECTION 308.3.1 Open-flame cooking devices. Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction.

Many outdoor grill fires could be prevented through periodic maintenance and routine product inspection. Also, homeowners should be made aware of the need for vigilance while cooking on a grill. A successful cookout is a SAFE cookout.


· Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building.

· Never leave the grill unattended, especially when young children or pets are nearby.

· Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire.

· Never attempt to restart a flame by adding additional lighting fluid to an already-lit grill, as this can cause a flare-up.

· Dispose of charcoal away from kids and pets, and cool it down with a hose.

· When grilling use insulated, flame-retardant mitts or long-handled barbecue tongs and utensils to avoid burns and splatters.

· Wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills or apron strings.

· Be sure all parts of the unit are firmly in place and the grill is stable.

· Don’t allow activities around the grill when in use.

· Never attempt to move a hot grill.

· Clean the grill at least twice a year.

· KEEP A FIRE EXTINGUISHER HANDY. Everyone should know how to use it, based on the PASS method: Pull pin; Aim at base of fire; Squeeze handle; and Sweep from side to side.


· Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.

· Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.

· Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can’t move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.

· Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.

· Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer’s instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.

· Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.

· Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.

· Keep all liquid propane (LP) gas outside, 10 feet away from building openings, such as doors, windows, dryer vents and air intake vents.

· Gas grill containers must be kept 5 feet away from possible ignition sources such as air conditioners, compressors, cars and pilot lights.

· Always keep containers upright and store in areas where temperatures won’t exceed 125 Degrees F.

· Never store a spare gas container under or near the grill or indoors.

· Never deep a filled container in a hot car or car trunk.


· Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents or campers.

· Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.

· Wait until lighter fluid has soaked in before lighting.

· Lighter fluid should be capped immediately and placed a safe distance from the grill.

· Never add lighter fluid to existing hot or warm coals.

· Never use gasoline, or kerosene or other highly volatile fluids as a starter. They can explode.

· Never use an electric starter in the rain and/or when standing on wet ground.

· Allow coals to burn out completely and let the ashes cool for 48 Hours before disposing of them.


· When shopping for meat, fish and poultry, put them in your cart last. Never buy a package that’s damaged or torn and check “sell-by” and “use-by” dates. Put packaged raw meat in plastic bags so leaking juices cannot cross contaminate other foods.

· If you won’t use meat, fish and poultry within a few days, freeze it immediately.

· When carrying food to a picnic, the beach or a tailgating party, keep it cold. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 Degrees F. Remove food from the refrigerator and pack the cooler just before leaving the house.

· If including take-out foods—such as deli potato salad, coleslaw or baked beans—eat within two hours of picking them up. Otherwise, purchase them in advance and chill thoroughly, then transport in a cooler and reheat those that should be hot just before eating.

· Store refrigerated meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator in its original packaging. The more times the food is handled the more chance of contamination. Put a plate under the package, or place in a plastic bag, to avoid juices dripping onto refrigerator shelves.

· Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, never on the counter; allow sufficient defrosting time. Or immerse packaged food in cold water to thaw. If you’re in a hurry, thaw in the microwave just before grilling it.

· Hand washing is paramount. Wash your hands in hot soapy water before preparing food, after each time you touch raw meat, and after any interruptions such a using the bathroom, handling pets, stopping to do something with children.

· Refrigerate leftover food quickly (no more than two hours) and use within a couple of days.

Enjoy your cookouts, eat healthy, and STAY SAFE!

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