ENFIELD — Fire Chief Edward Richards of Enfield Fire District No. 1 would like to remind residents of the following safety tips as they prepare to use outdoor fire pits and grills in the coming weeks and months.
“The warm weather is upon us and we all want to get outside and do the activities we associate with summertime,” Chief Richards said. “This includes using outdoor fire pits and grills, but as is the case with anything involving an open flame or combustible materials, proper safety precautions must always be followed to avoid property damage, or worse, serious personal injury.”
Fire Pit Safety
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is warning consumers about a phenomenon known as “flame jetting,” which occurs when flammable liquid (such as a portable fuel can) meets an ignition source (such as a fire pit). The result is flames shooting out of the fire pit more than a dozen feet into the air.
Consumers are reminded to never apply gasoline to an existing fire, and to only use lighter fluid prior to a flame being ignited. Even the smallest of flames can cause flame jetting if a flammable liquid is introduced.
Enfield Fire District No. 1 reminds residents of these other fire pit safety tips, courtesy the U.S. Fire Administration:
- Keep the fire small and manageable (less than 3-feet in diameter).
- Never use wet, damp, or “new” wood. This creates needless, irritating smoke. Always use dry, seasoned wood, charcoal, or specialist fuel.
- Do not cause a nuisance to neighbors.
- The fire pit should be sited on a flat surface that is non-combustible. An area a minimum of 15 feet should be cleared around the fire pit in all directions and clear of all vegetation and combustibles, as well as being 75 feet from any structure.
- If using a manufactured fire pit, it is to be placed on a flat and level surface. The fire pit should not wobble at all.
- If assembly is required, be sure to read the assembly instructions carefully and attach any fastenings securely.
- Do not leave the fire unattended. It could pose a hazard to both children and pets.
- Use long barbecue tongs to handle wood or cooking items to lessen the risk of burning yourself. A pair of fire gloves would also be useful. The surfaces of cast iron fire pits in particular get very hot.
- Never use a manufactured fire pit indoors or in an enclosed area.
- It is required to keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose handy, for quick extinguishing if necessary.
Enfield Fire District No. 1 shares these several tips for grilling safely:
- Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
- Place grills away from the house, deck railings and out from under eaves of overhanging branches.
- Grills should only be used on first floor porches, decks, or patios if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground, or the porch is at ground level.
- Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the grilling area. Children should never play near grills or propane cylinders.
Gas Grill Safety
- Make sure the lid of a gas grill is open when you light it. Propane can build up inside and when ignited, the lid may blow off.
- Check that all connections are tight before turning on the gas.
- Clean the grease trap every time you grill.
- Check the propane tank hose for potential leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle. See if any bubbles appear around the hose. If no bubbles appear, the grill is safe to use.
- If you smell gas while cooking, turn the grill off and move away from it. Call 911 from a safe location. Do not move the grill.
- Store propane cylinders upright in an outdoor, shaded area. Cylinders should not be used, stored or transported where they can be exposed to high temperatures.
Charcoal Grill Safety
- Use only charcoal starter fluid. Never used gasoline or kerosene to start a fire in a grill and never add lighter fluid to burning briquettes or hot coals.
- Always use charcoal grills in a well-ventilated area. Charcoal briquettes emit carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.
- Properly dispose of grill ashes. Allow the coals to burn out completely and then cool for 48 hours before disposal. If you must dispose of ashes before they are completely cooled, thoroughly soak them in water before putting them in a metal container.