It Starts with a Square

All Fired Up

BY Chelsey Handley

Ready for backyard barbeques and outdoor grilling now that the warm weather has arrived? Nothing beats the flavors of fire-roasted food! Here are some tips to get you (safely) fired up.

After a long winter without use, it doesn’t hurt to give the grill a good cleaning. Scrub cooking grates and run grilling tools through the dishwasher. Clean the grease trap beneath the grill, then consider lining it with aluminum foil for an easy clean-up next year. Give a propane grill a test run before cooking to make sure all the burners are firing and there are no leaks in the propane cylinder hose (check by smell and using the soapy bubble test; never use a lit match to test for leaks).

If cooking with a charcoal grill, follow the directions and be familiar with the precautions listed on the charcoal starter fluid, which is both toxic and flammable. An alternative to starter fluid is to use a chimney starter which uses crumpled paper to ignite the coals. To cool the grilling coals and ashes, close the lid and vents to your charcoal grill for 48 hours. Used charcoal and ashes can retain heat and remain active for a long time, and many fires have started due to their improper disposal. Once the grilling coals have cooled completely, wrap the material in aluminum foil and place in a non-combustible container, or place the coals in a metal can with a lid. Never place charcoal and ashes directly into a plastic garbage bin. 

Other Safety Tips to Remember

  • Wear short sleeves, or roll sleeves up when cooking on the grill.
  • Use long-handled barbecue tools
  • Keep a 3-foot kid-safe (and pet-safe) zone around your grill.
  • Always keep an eye on your food; never leave a grill unattended.
  • Remember to clean the grill after each use to prevent grease or fat buildup that could be ignited by a hot grill.
  • Do not store propane cylinders in buildings or garages.
  • If an accidental burn occurs, place the burn in cool water for 3-5 minutes and cover it with a clean, dry cloth. For a burn larger than your palm, see your doctor. Remember to “Stop, Drop, Cover, and Roll” if any clothing accidentally catches fire.

Lieutenant Clay Blair of Collierville Fire Station #5 has fought fires for the last 25 years and suggests two safety tips to follow when grilling out this summer. “Be attentive when you’re grilling,” says Lt. Blair. “Never light the grill and walk away. Many fires happen because the person just walked away. Also, bring your grills out from underneath a structure. A lot of people like to have their grills under a balcony, but the best place is to be out in the open air. I’ve seen numerous fires started from catching onto a house structure, and that can be prevented!” If a fire does happen to occur, Lt. Blair recommends, if possible, to first cut off the propane and close the grill. If this is not possible, do not use water, but rather have a fire extinguisher handy to smother the fire. Call 911 in the event that the fire is too large for you to put out. Be safe and enjoy grilling this summer!

by | Collierville Fire Department

September/October 2021 Tour Collierville Magazine