Barbecuing enthusiasts love the smell and taste of a fresh barbecue as long as the smoke does not travel inside of the house. Besides the smoke, fire safety is a major concern when it comes to how close to position a barbecue to a house. An open area that is a good distance from the house is a safe, worry-free way to enjoy cooking at your backyard barbecue.
The New York City Fire Department recommends using a charcoal grill at least 10 feet away from a building. In fact, it declares barbecuing is illegal if this clearance is not observed along with immediate access to a working garden hose.
For propane or gas barbecue grills, the safest place to use them is on the ground, away from patios, decks, terraces or roofs. The New York City Fire Department also cites breaking this rule as an illegal violation of the city's fire codes.
The 10-foot recommended distance is a safe standard to apply anywhere. This distance would, of course, increase but never decrease, especially when the barbecue area is near shrubbery and trees. The recommended distance of a barbecue grill from a house keeps this open flame source at a safe distance and prevents the fire from catching onto a flammable part of the house.
Barbecue Grill Styles
Choose between purchasing a barbecue grill and building a barbecue grill pit in the backyard. Choosing a barbecue grill is a matter of convenience and taste preference. Charcoal grills infuse the foods with that authentic grill taste as it cooks on the natural flame but with the added preparation and cleanup of the charcoal.
Gas grills are quick and easy to set up and cook on, and the numerous styles to choose from make it relatively easy to find the right one that complements your backyard design. Since the grill does not use traditional charcoal and the flame is fed by gas, the food does not have as much of a grilled flavor as food cooked on a charcoal grill.
Constructing a barbecue pit in the backyard using brick or stone makes a permanent, stationery grill that you can depend on for many years. The barbecue pit uses charcoal briquettes, or you can have a gas grill insert installed in a barbecue pit custom-built to its specifications.
The common hazard of all of these grill types is the fire. Strategically positioning the grill to be close enough, yet far enough away, from the house will remove the worry of a potential fire hazard.
Cooking on Even Heat
Prior to placing the food on the grill, tame the fire down to a low flame that heats up the charcoal until it turns red. Cook the food over these hot coals until it is cooked thoroughly inside and out. When it is time to rejuvenate the flame, remove the food and add more charcoal. Ignite the fire to reach a high flame and maintain a consistent flame until the new charcoal briquettes are fully lit. Processing the grilled food over hot coals with a low flame minimizes the fire hazards associated with barbecuing.
Putting out the Fire
Smother the fire after grilling the last food. The charcoal briquettes will continue to burn, and throwing water on them will only generate a lot of soot-laden steam. Cover the charcoal, and close the vents. For an open barbecue grill, just allow the charcoal to burn out.
Start your barbecue early in the day so that there is enough time left at the end of the day to watch the cold charcoal burn out. If you have to leave it overnight, ensure it is contained in the grill and that there is adequate clearance from anything in the area that is combustible.
Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on various websites. Manal received her Bachelor of Science in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.