In 2015, the Calgary Fire Department said 19 house fires were started by people cooking on barbecues or open flames.
This summer, fire chief Steve Dongworth is reminding people about the proper use of barbecues, starting with how close they are to anything flammable like vinyl siding or wooden deck railings.
“People actually leave a barbecue running and it’s next to the house under the eaves of the house and it actually spreads into the house,” Dongworth said.
Another common cause of barbecue fires is when the flame blows out and people try to re-light it without waiting for the gas to dissipate.
“You can get into a lot of trouble when you try to light it again and perhaps it’s been running for a while without burning and there’s that building up of propane,” the chief explained.
At Barbecues Galore, staff instruct customers about the right and wrong way to take care of a barbecue.
Many fires are started because people don’t clean the grills and heating elements. A build-up of food droppings and grease can cause a fire.
“With a grease fire, the more fuel that’s there the bigger the fire,” manager Trevor Hannan said.
He said many people leave the barbecue on after they’re finished cooking to burn off food and grease but forget it’s on. Hannan said that’s not necessary.
“Leave it greasy and dirty until then next time you cook. It protects the grills. Pre-heating the barbecue before you cook does the same thing as burning it off.”
Here’s a few barbecue safety tips:
- Always barbecue outside
- Barbecue well away from your house
- Keep the cover open when lighting
- Wait 15 minutes before relighting a gas barbecue
- Don’t use starter fluid on lit coals
Where you can use a barbecue is also a source of confusion. According to the Provincial Fire Code, barbecue cylinders, whether used on balconies or elsewhere, must be a minimum of three feet from doors, windows, vents or combustible materials.
Barbecue cylinders must be 10 feet from any other source of ignition and solid fuel barbecues – such as briquettes, charcoal and wood – are not allowed on a balcony of any building larger than a duplex.
A building owner can also choose to ban propane or gas barbecues or other appliances.