Dangers of Grills on Decks

With summer quickly approaching, many cooking enthusiasts are eager to get the grill out for some tasty summer meals. However, grilling can really bring on the heat if done improperly, and it could cause a monstrous fire on your property if it gets out of control. With July being the most common month for grill fires, it’s best to set your property’s rules regarding grilling and remind your tenants of it well before the summer months begin. Let’s go through the various grill types and the risks of each:


The main concern with charcoal grills is the release of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, and deadly gas. If used in a poorly ventilated area, charcoal grills can release enough carbon monoxide to become deadly. Further, warm charcoals still emit some carbon monoxide, so make sure used charcoals are completely cool before disposing of them, and never store a grill with warm charcoals indoors or in a garage.


Though often considered safer than charcoal grills, propane grills pose a significant fire risk. In fact, 83% of grill fires are started with gas grills! The main concern with propane grills is gas leaks, which can lead to explosion. For example, if hose connections are not secure, excess gas can accumulate under the lid and explode.

Make sure to keep your grill 10 feet away from
your home or other structures.


Generally safer than charcoal or propane grills, electric grills can pose fire risk if an extension cord is used that is not suitable for outdoor use.

Fire risk exists for all types of grills, but the risk is even greater when they are used on a balcony or deck. Balconies are close to buildings by nature, and many decks are made of combustible materials. Should a grill catch fire, it would likely ignite the nearby building or deck.

In general, grilling should be done on a noncombustible surface in a well-ventilated area that is 10 feet away from any structure. Consider having a fire extinguisher near any common grilling areas.

There could be a few safe options for allowing grilling on your properties. For multifamily properties, there is generally not an area per unit that meets the guidelines for safe grilling. While you will want to prohibit grills on decks and balconies, you may want to consider a community grilling area complete with a concrete slab. For one- or two-family dwellings, there may be more leeway to allow grilling on site. In addition to keeping grills at least 10 feet away from the nearest structure and prohibiting grilling on decks, ensure that any grilling areas are free of overhanging branches.

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