Fire Marshall offers safety tips for campfires, grilling

Published 9:41 am Thursday, May 26, 2016

Metro Services  If your summer plans include sharing stories and s'mores around the campfire, make sure you plan for safety as well.

Metro Services
If your summer plans include sharing stories and s’mores around the campfire, make sure you plan for safety as well.

For many, this coming weekend marks the start of Summer and enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, camping or spending time at the lake.
If your summertime plans include grilling out or sharing stories, and s’mores, around a campfire, make sure you also plan ahead for safety.
Any time fire is involved, extra safety precautions must be taken according to Elizabethton Police Department Fire Marshal Andy Hardin.
Campfires should be contained within a ring of rocks or in a dug out fire pit to keep them from spreading and getting out of control, Hardin said.
“They need to make sure to keep them at least 50 feet away from a structure,” he added. “Campfires need to be constantly supervised and never left unattended.”
And, when the time around the fire comes to a close, Hardin said to make sure the fire is completely extinguished and no embers are still burning before leaving the site.
Conditions must also be right for a campfire, Hardin said. Too much wind can make embers fly away and possibly catch fire nearby.
Hardin said the location for the campfire is also important. “Don’t burn in a real dry area where it could catch up and spread to the woods or a structure,” he said.
Recreational burning, such as campfires and fire pits, are classified differently than what the fire considers “open burns,” which is when residents burn brush on their property. Because they are considered a different type of fire, city residents are not required to notify the Elizabethton Fire Department if they are planning a campfire like they are with and open burn of brush.
But, all the same, city residents hosting a campfire or fire pit may find the fire department visiting their home.
“If it becomes a nuisance to the neighbors, like with the smoke, we do have to come and put it out,” Hardin said.
The Fire Marshall also offered some safety tips for those who plan on slapping some burgers, hotdogs or other food on the grill.
His first tip was to make sure the grill — whether it be charcoal or gas — is in an open area and not next to, or inside, a structure.
“Make sure the gas lines are in good shape and they are not torn or cut and the connections are good,” Hardin said for those using gas grills.
Making sure the grill is clean can also help prevent accidental fires, Hardin said.
“Don’t let a lot of grease build up because that can definitely cause flare ups,” he said, adding grease could also lead to the fire getting out of control and spreading.
Hardin also offered caution to those who may be planning a fish fry or other event using a propane powered deep fryer.
“Any propane deep grease cooking needs to be done outside,” Hardin said, adding propane deep fryers need constant attention to maintain safety.
Hardin also wanted to remind city residents that burn restrictions are still in place for the open burning of brush.
“They need to call the Fire Department on the day they are going to burn to make sure the conditions are okay for burning,” he said.
City residents with questions on burning or fire safety can contact the Elizabethton Fire Department at 423-542-5421.

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