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TRENTON, N.J. – In advance of summer holiday and weekend gatherings, the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety (DFS) is reminding residents of important grilling safety tips to ensure celebrations are safe.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, seven out of every 10 adults in the U.S. have a grill or smoker, which translates to a lot of tasty meals. But it also means there’s an increased risk of home fires.

In 2017-2021, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 11,421 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues per year, including an average of 5,763 structure fires and 5,659 outside or unclassified fires. 

New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver advises residents to follow safety tips recommended by New Jersey’s fire safety experts to avoid injury. “We’re all looking forward to kicking off the summer months and want to ensure safety first when engaging in outdoor grilling,” said Oliver, who also serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, according to a prepared statement issued on May 23, 2023.

“All grills should be thoroughly inspected each year before use,” said DFS Director and State Fire Marshal Richard Mikutsky. “It’s important to remove any grease or fat buildup and to check for gas leaks. Also, remember to keep the grill a good distance from the home to avoid fire.”

The following barbecue guidelines should be followed to ensure a safe grilling season.

  • For propane grills, check the gas tank for leaks before use in the months ahead.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Place the grill well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area.
  • Never leave your grill unattended when in use.

If using a charcoal grill:

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel. 
  • If using a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
  • Never leave your grill unattended when in use.

The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety serves as the central focus for the State’s fire service community and the general public in all matters relating to fire safety through the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, public education programs and firefighter training programs.

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