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Fire-Prevention Strategies for Outdoor Grilling in Greater Chicago


Though the first official day of summer isn’t until June 21, the sounds, sights and smells of the season are underway in the greater Chicago area. Who can argue that one of the best aromas of the summer is a juicy hamburger, T-bone steak or chicken kabob being grilled to perfection on an outdoor grill? A much less pleasant smell is that of charred wood from your deck or burning leaves due to an accidental fire.

Both propane gas grills and traditional charcoal grills can lead to an unwanted fire. For example, if a gas grill has a damaged gas line, it can become a fire hazard. Charcoal grills can be dangerous, too. If a hot coal escapes and manages to avoid the coal pan, it can quickly set your lawn or deck on fire. In fact, from 2007 to 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 home fires involving grills.

However, you can avoid a fire while grilling if you follow some extra safety precautions. Please keep these tips in mind before your next cook-out:

  • Only use propane and charcoal BBQ grills outside.
  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Put safety rules in place for children. Keep kids and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Stay next to your grill at all times while cooking. Never leave the area unattended.
  • Clean your grill often, removing any grease buildup from the grates and trays.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited. Never use any flammable or combustible liquid other then charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
  • For propane grills, check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. If you find a leak, turn off the gas tank and grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy to quickly douse a fire.

But if your grilling plans go terribly awry and turn into a nightmare because of a fire, you can turn to ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons for prompt and professional fire and smoke damage restoration. Serving the greater Chicago area, we have the tools and expertise to guide you through the stressful aftermath of a fire. Call ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons at 773-376-1110 to get an assessment of the damage and the restoration process started.


  • Nasutsa Mabwa

    Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2020 Daily Herald Business Ledger C-Suite awardee, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for as President Elect on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.