BBQ Fire Safety Tips

Summertime is barbecue time. However, a charcoal grill or gas grill also has an often underestimated fire hazard.

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23 June 2022 Fire Safety

Barbecue and Fire Safety

In the summertime, barbecuing is one of the most common leisure activities - whether in the garden, on the balcony or on the terrace. In fact, 97% of Germans enjoy grilling and 90% own their own barbecue.¹

However, barbecuing on the balcony or in the garden also involves frequently underestimated fire hazards. For a safe barbecue season, these dangers should be known in order to avoid accidents with possibly severe burns. As a result, barbecuing on the balcony or in the garden requires appropriate fire protection.

Good to know: The temperatures of the grill are several hundred degrees Celsius. The grill housing can reach temperatures of around 400 °C, the charcoal up to 500 °C and the flames up to 800 °C.
These temperatures illustrate the fire risks associated with grilling.

Fire safety rules for safe barbecue

Regardless of the type of grill, the grill must be positioned on a level surface and at a sufficient distance from combustible objects to prevent it from tipping over. Combustible objects include branches, bushes, garden decorations or furniture. At the same time, the grill should be placed in the lee, but not indoors or under gazebos, tents or umbrellas. These can easily catch fire from flying sparks from a charcoal grill and are a common fire hazard when grilling.

Indoor grilling also poses a poisoning hazard due to oxygen deprivation and the formation of carbon monoxide. In addition, a hot grill should never be moved or displaced. Children should only be at a sufficient distance from the grill, as it is often difficult for them to assess the danger.

Important: A barbecue must always be supervised! A cold beer is often part of the barbecue evening. Nevertheless, alcohol should only be consumed in moderation to maintain responsiveness and avoid reckless behavior.

Fire protection for barbecue on balcony or in the garden

Charcoal grill - Fire protection

A charcoal grill should only be lit with commercially available and approved grill lighters. The use of methylated spirits or gasoline as fire accelerants is extremely dangerous and not recommended. In the worst case, they lead to explosive ignition, a jet flame and deflagration. As a result, severe burns will occur to anyone in the vicinity of the grill at that time. If the charcoal ignites too slowly, use other barbecue igniters.

The use of liquid fire accelerants (such as methylated spirits) must be avoided at all costs. After a successful barbecue, it is important to extinguish the barbecue and the embers sufficiently and to let them cool down. Do not dispose of the charcoal until it has cooled down completely.

Important: Never pour hot embers into nature (such as lawns or bushes) or a trash can, as they can ignite flammable objects (such as branches or trash).

Charcoal grill on the balcony & fire protection

A charcoal grill on the balcony is not generally prohibited. However, it is not recommended due to the strong smoke development and increased fire hazard. For example, the temperature of a charcoal grill is difficult to regulate. In addition, an incipient fire is difficult to extinguish in a confined space, and a balcony offers many flammable objects (such as balcony floors made of wood, awnings or seat cushions). It is difficult to maintain sufficient distance between a grill and balcony furniture on a balcony. The less space for a charcoal grill on a balcony or patio, the greater the fire risk to the people grilling and the neighborhood.

Gas or electric grills offer an alternative for barbecuing on the balcony or terrace. However, it is important to note that these are not 100% safe and the fire safety rules for safe grilling must also be observed for gas or electric grills.

Gas grill and fire protection

Gasgrill Brandgefahr

With a gas grill, it is important that the connections are tight and that there are no leaks through which escaping gas can ignite. In addition, the connecting hose should be laid so that it is not directly exposed to the heat of the grill. In addition, it is necessary to pay attention to the correct storage of gas cylinders.

Extinguish barbecue - the correct procedure
In the event that a grill, old fat or leftover food ignites, the following applies: Do not extinguish the fire with water! A grease fire that is extinguished with water leads to a grease explosion with devastating effects. To extinguish a grease fire, the air supply should be cut off, e.g. by a metal lid or closing the grill hood. In addition, the gas bottle of a gas grill should be closed directly.

Tip: Use a special grease fire extinguisher for the grilling season (but also the kitchen!). A fire blanket is not suitable for extinguishing a grease fire.

Still have questions about fire safety for the grilling season?

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¹Statista (2021): Umfrage zur Beliebtheit von Grillen in Deutschland in 2019, Online im Internett, URL:
https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/80/umfrage/lust-zum-grillen/

²Statista (2019): Umfrage zum Besitz eines eigenen Grills in Deutschland 2017, Online im Internett, URL: https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/299325/umfrage/umfrage-zum-besitz-eines-eigenen-grills-in-deutschland/