Outdoor Fire Safety


Grilling Safety Tips

  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended. 
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

Charcoal Grills

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord designed for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

Propane Grills

  • Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose. A gas leak will release bubbles. 
  • If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department.

Landscaping Safety Tips

  • Cut tall grass near structures. A fire in dry grass burns quickly and is very difficult to control.
  • Remove excess brush and small trees from at least 30 feet around buildings. Dense brush burns quickly and can provide a "ladder" for low flames to reach up into larger trees. Widely spaced trees and shrubs can be left in the landscape for shade and esthetics.
  • On larger lots, maintain a fuel break of low-growing plants 30 to 70 feet out from buildings. Such fuel breaks act as a buffer between the manicured landscape near the home and the adjacent wildlands.
  • Rake up leaves and twigs. Remove plant litter (dead leaves, twigs, etc.) that accumulates under trees and shrubs to reduce fuel loads. Tree litter that accumulates on roofs and in gutters should also be removed regularly. Large amounts of litter can accumulate on lower branches of trees and shrubs and should be removed. Removal of heavy litter accumulations in adjacent wildland areas also should be done if possible. Removed litter should be placed in an approved landfill. It should not be piled on the property or in adjacent woodlands.
  • Prune tree branches. Prune branches up to ten to twenty feet above the ground on large trees to prevent low fires from reaching the tree crowns.
  • Thin dense tree groups. Though the grouping of trees is normally a good landscaping technique, in fire-prone areas it can be hazardous. Thinning these groups will slow the spread of fire.
  • Remove firewood and other combustible materials from around buildings. Firewood should be stored on the outside edge of your defensible space.
  • Make sure firefighters can reach all parts of your property. Place fences, trees, retaining walls, etc. so that they don't restrict firefighting equipment access.
  • Choose landscape plants that are less flammable. All plants will burn if a fire is severe enough. Some plants are more fire-prone than others, however. Conifers such as pines and spruces tend to be fairly flammable, while many broadleaved trees are fairly fire resistant.
  • Cooperate with neighbors to provide large defensible spaces. A thirty foot wide clear space around a home may not be adequate in a severe fire, especially if neighboring properties have not been well-designed or maintained. Neighbors should cooperate to reduce fire risk by having good defensible spaces that join one another.
  • Check your landscape monthly. Maintenance is a never-ending task. Inspect landscapes monthly and attend to problem situations before they become serious hazards.