Grilling Safety

Summer fun often includes cooking and eating outdoors with family and friends. Citizens in Apex who want to share in this favorite pastime must take special precautions. Using portable grills in some instances is unsafe and against the law.

Fire Prevention Code

Section 504.8 of the North Carolina State Fire Prevention code prohibits outdoor grilling within 10 feet vertically and horizontally of combustible materials or portions of all occupancies except one and two family dwellings and townhouses.

The code applies to charcoal grills, propane gas grills, natural gas grills, hibachis, smokers, or any appliance which uses an open flame to cook. These regulations apply only when grills are in use.

The storage of grills when they are not in use, or when they’re cool and not subject to creating a fire hazard, is not regulated by this requirement. In addition, we’d like to offer the following clarifications:

  • These regulations also apply to portable electric grills if the grill contains loose heat storage material such as lava rock.
  • The storage of grills with propane tanks having water capacity greater than 2.5 pounds is permitted only on decks, porches and patios at ground level or those which have exterior stairs for access. This is a National Fire Protection Association standard requirement.
  • The 10 feet of clearance also applies to combustible materials such as pine straw, pine bark, and other combustible landscaping materials.
  • The regulations do not apply to fixed grills, but strict attention should be paid to the grill instructions to insure that required clearances are maintained.

Grilling Tips

  • Never use charcoal lighter fluid on a burning fire.
  • Leave the grill hood open until ignition occurs when lighting gas grills.
  • Don’t grill near combustible materials such as pine needles or leaves.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or charged garden hose accessible.
  • Always shut off valves to propane tanks when not in use.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Appliances are not to be used within 10 feet of combustible portions of buildings or combustible materials such as pine straw, pine bark and other combustible landscape materials.
  • Appliances are not to be used within 10 feet of motor vehicles.
  • Appliances are to be cool to the touch before moving. Ashes, cinders, or coals are to be completely extinguished before being discarded.
  • Hot ashes, cinders, and smoldering coals shall be deposited in metal containers only. Metal containers should be clearly marked "For Charcoal Disposal Only" and not be placed within10 feet of combustible materials.
  • An acceptable method should be available to extinguish a fire with water or an fire extinguisher.
  • Appliances shall not be used in parking decks or in areas where they will obstruct pedestrian or vehicle traffic. Appliances shall be attended at all times when in use.
  • Parking lot owners (Public And Private) who permit outdoor cooking are encouraged to set up designated cooking areas and metal disposal containers.
  • All appliances and fuels are to be used in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations.
  • Any other type of open burning or outdoor fire is strictly prohibited without Apex Fire Department approval or permit.

Additional Information

The Apex Fire Department will be glad to help citizens who have questions about potential fire hazards in their homes. To speak to a fire professional, call (919) 362-4001 during normal business hours.