Fire Prevention 52: Father’s Day BBQ Safety

Grill with steak and flames

Safety Tips for Your Summer BBQ

Barbecuing is a great way to spend time with family and friends, but remember that if not used properly, grills and BBQs can be dangerous. Grills and BBQs account for about 8,200 fires each year in the United States, resulting in 15 deaths, 120 injuries, and approximately $75 million in property damage. To keep from being a part of these statistics, follow a few safety precautions:

  • Never use a grill or BBQ indoors.
  • Keep your grills and BBQs away from your house and deck railings, and out from under your eaves.
  • Never add charcoal lighter fluid to a fire that is already lit, and never use anything but charcoal lighter fluid on charcoal.
  • If you use a gas grill, check the hose and fittings at the beginning of each grilling season with a little soap and water solution to ensure that there are no leaks.

Last year ESPN sportscaster Hannah Storm learned firsthand how dangerous grills can be.


Brian the Prevention Guy here. Father's Day is a holiday that is celebrated all week in my house. When it's time to celebrate, there is no better way to do it than a nice piece of barbecued meat and an ice cold beverage. This year I will be doing a Santa Maria tri-tip on my BBQ. All you need is salt, pepper, garlic rub, a quality piece of meat, and a good hot fire. Red oak is the traditional way, but it's hard to find. A bag of hickory charcoal and some hickory or mesquite wood chips soaked in water and thrown on top of the coals will create a little smoke. I cook the meat right over the flame of my kettle BBQ, using the lid to control the flare ups. Cook the meat for about 30 minutes, flipping from side to side about every 10 minutes, until it has an internal temperature of about 130. When it’s done, resist the urge to cut it open right away! Let those juices redistribute through the meat for at least 10 minutes. For full flavor, be sure to slice across the grain. Some nice spicy pinto beans, a tomato relish, and garlic bread are all it takes to make my Father's Day complete!

Fire Info for You

Make sure all of your outdoor cooking appliances are clean and ready to use this summer. Check gas line connections with soapy water and make sure all of your BBQs and grills are away from the house, not under eaves, and away from other combustibles. Here are some more tips from our grilling friends at NFPA.

Park Leadership and Park Structural Fire Coordinators
U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 8,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis, or barbecues each year, including an average of 3,400 structure fires and 4,800 outside fires. These 8,200 fires caused an annual average of 15 civilian deaths, 120 civilian injuries and $75 million in direct property damage. Preventing these types of fires is simply a matter of education. Sending an email to all park employees with this printable barbecue safety sheet could help prevent a barbecue fire in your park.

Regional/National Leadership
Housing managers and commercial service managers can help to reduce fires caused by outdoor cooking in our parks. Whether it is the regular maintenance of commercial cooking fire suppression systems in our buildings or the development of park-level regulations and guidelines, we all have a part in helping to reduce fires caused by outdoor cooking.

Take Action

  1. Check to make sure there are no hazards in or around your grill. Is it out from under the eaves? Away from the house?
  2. Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles. If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, 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. Do not move the grill.

NPS Fire Facts

In keeping with the historic head-of-state barbecues held on the LBJ Ranch during the Lyndon B. Johnson presidency of the 1960s, the National Park Service hosted a barbecue on the LBJ Ranch on May 5, 2012.

Next time you are in northern California drop by and see our friends at Stinson Beach, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and enjoy a truly California experience by barbecuing hot dogs on the beach!

Last updated: October 19, 2016