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Be Careful Mixing Fun and Fire

Posted on Jul 30, 2016

Don't Let Your Barbecue Go Up in Smoke

Residential complexes suffer severe damage or loss every year from fires that begin when a grill is operated on a balcony. About 6,500 grill fires take place each year, resulting in almost $27 million in fire loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

For that reason, Ohio Fire Code prohibits operation of a charcoal burner, or any other open-flame cooking device, on combustible decks and balconies. The devices also can not be used within 10 feet of other combustible construction such as a wall, overhang, patio fence, railing, or the deck above your own deck or patio.

The restriction applies to multi-family structures larger than a duplex and does not prevent the use of cooking devices on the decks of single-family and two-family dwellings. Cooking devices using propane fuel are subject to the same regulations if the fuel container is larger than one-pound. The typical gas grill uses a liquid propane gas container with a capacity of about 20 pounds.

Be Careful Mixing Fun and Fire

Before starting a recreational fire, check with your neighbors and the fire department. Even a legal fire must be extinguished if it’s objectionable to a neighbor.

Keep in mind that recreational fires may be offensive to others, particularly those with allergies and asthma. During summer and fall, the fire department gets 15 to 20 calls per week about recreational fires, most of them from neighbors with a complaint.

Avoid starting a fire during a strong wind or dry period and follow these strict conditions dictated by the Ohio Fire Code for recreational fires:

  • No larger than 2 feet in width and 2 feet in height
  • Used only for cooking
  • Made with well-seasoned wood. (No trash or yard waste)
  • Located at least 25 feet from any structure, including wood or vinyl fences
  • Contained within a pit, fire ring or commercial fire pit
  • Constantly attended by someone 18 years or older
  • Safeguarded with a fire extinguisher, garden hose, or buckets of water

Use only fireplace matches or propane lighter to start the fire. It's recommended that a fire last no longer than three hours. Extinguish all hot coals when finished with a water hose or bucket of water and then leave the hot materials alone at least 24 hours. Do not bag or dispose of the ash or coals in a garbage container until you know they are thoroughly out. Contact the Division of Fire Safety if you have questions concerning open burning.

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