Fire Safety During Grilling Season

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With the unofficial start to summer underway following Memorial Day, it's also a good time to remember fire safety precautions.

"The Fire Department would like to remind our residents that we are seeing an uptick in brush and mulch fires, which is typical for this time of year," says Westwood Fire Department Public Information Officer Carolyn Wade. "Dryer weather and windier conditions will help fires to spread quickly. Most of the brush and mulch fires that we encounter are caused by the careless disposal of smoking materials," she comments.

Ms. Wade reminds residents that the period for open burning ended on May 1, 2022. Currently, there is no outside burning permitted. (Massachusetts allows open burning from mid-winter through early spring, throughout most of the state.  The snowy or wet weather of those times of year can help deter a fire from rapidly spreading.) She urges residents to dial 911 immediately if they see smoke or fire.

Open burning of plant debris and such may not be currently allowed, but residents can still cook outdoors. Precautions are wise, however, given that the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services notes that over 75 percent of grilling fires occur between May and September.

Some general safety tips for grilling:

  • Always grill outdoors, never inside.
  • Do not use a gas or charcoal grill on any porch, balcony, or fire escape.
  • Place grills 10 feet away from the house and deck railings. Make sure grills are not under eaves or overhanging branches.
  • Gas grills can be used on first floor decks or patios, but only if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground or the grill is at ground level.
  • Keep all matches, lighters and lighter fluid away from children.
  • Create a circle of safety. Keep children and pets three feet away from grills. Children should never play near grills.
  • For charcoal grills: (1) Only use charcoal starter fluid - not gasoline or kerosene - to start a fire; (2) Never add lighter fluid to burning briquettes or hot coals, as this can cause a flash fire and burn injuries; (3) Allow coals to burn out completely and then cool for 48 hours before disposal; (4) If you must dispose of the ashes before they are completely cooled, thoroughly soak them in water before putting them in a metal container.

With safety comes peace of mind . . . now, enjoy your cookout!

Thanks to Ms. Carolyn Wade of the Westwood Fire Department and the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services for contributing information for this article.

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