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LARA and State Fire Marshal Offer Fire Safety Tips Ahead of Memorial Day

State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer is encouraging Michiganders to be safe as they gather with family and friends during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“Before firing up the grill, we want you to be safe and follow a few simple safety precautions to avoid serious injuries and fires,” said Fire Marshal Sehlmeyer. “Six out of seven grill fires involve a gas grill and are most often caused by a leak or break in hoses or other equipment. Maintenance and grill part replacement is particularly important with gas grills to protect yourself and your family.”

Sehlmeyer says that popular gas grills and gas/wood-fired smokers are generally safe and convenient. However, liquid propane gas requires special handling, tight connections of hoses and storage of the tanks. Charcoal grills can be potentially dangerous as well when not used properly or placed too close to houses, garages, and outbuildings. 

Before you light up the grill, remember:

  • Always grill outdoors. NEVER grill indoors or in the garage, as grills release carbon monoxide, a deadly, odorless, colorless gas.
  • Grill on a level surface at least 10 feet away from your house, garage and not below overhanging eaves. Keep grills at least three feet from railings, fencing or privacy screens, branches, hanging baskets and backyard furniture.
  • Never use a grill on a balcony.
  • Keep children and pets well away from the grill area.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.  
  • Don’t overload the grill with food. Excessive fat and grease dripping on flames can ignite large flare ups.
  • Clean your grill often, removing grease and fat buildup from the grates and in the trays below.
  • Never fight a fire yourself. Call 911 and let the firefighters do their job.

Gas grill safety

  • Check gas tank hoses for gas leaks before the first use each year. 
  • Apply a light soap and water solution to check for leaking propane. Never use a match to check for leaks.
  • If you detect a leak, turn off the gas valve on the tank immediately and don’t use the grill until it’s serviced by a professional.
  • Before filling a liquid propane cylinder, check it for dents or gouges. Don’t overfill the cylinder.
  • NEVER turn on the gas when the lid is closed. The propane may build up inside and when ignited, the lid could blow off or a fireball can explode in your face.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately turn off the gas valve on the tank.
  • Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.
  • When finished with the grill, turn off the burners and close the propane cylinder valve. 

Charcoal grill safety

  • Use only charcoal starter fluid (never gasoline or kerosene) to light the grill.  
  • If using an electric charcoal starter use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • Always use charcoal grills outside in a well-ventilated area. Charcoal briquettes give off carbon monoxide gas.
  • Let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container or soak partially cooled ashes completely in water before disposal.

LARA and the Bureau of Fire Services would like to wish all Michiganders a safe Memorial Day Weekend.

For more information on fire and CO safety, please visit: