Grilling Safety

Cooking outdoors with family and friends can be a hallmark of summer fun, but to stay safe, citizens in Winston-Salem must take special precautions. Using portable grills in some instances can be unsafe and against the law.

  1. Fire Code Requirements
  2. Grilling Tips

Section 308.1.4 of the current North Carolina Fire Code (NCFC) addresses grills and other open-flame cooking devices:

Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within ten (10) feet of combustible construction.

There are three exceptions to this code requirement:

  • One- and two-family dwellings. 
  • Where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.
  • LP-gas cooking systems having an LP-gas container with a water capacity not greater than 2.5 pounds (nominal 1-pound LP-gas capacity).

Unless an exception applies, the requirements of NCFC Section 308.1.4 apply to charcoal grills, propane gas grills, natural gas grills, hibachis, smokers, or any appliance which uses an open flame to cook.  These regulations apply only when grills are in use.  The storage of grills when they are not in use, or when they’re cool and not subject to creating a fire hazard, is not regulated by this code section.

In addition, we offer the following clarifications:

  • These regulations also apply to portable electric grills if the grill contains loose heat storage material such as lava rock.
  • The storage of grills with propane tanks having water capacity greater than 2.5 pounds is permitted only on decks, porches and patios at ground level or those which have exterior stairs for access.  This is a National Fire Protection Association standard requirement.
  • The ten (10) feet of clearance applies to all combustible materials including pine straw, pine bark, and other combustible landscaping materials.
  • The regulations do not apply to fixed grills, but strict attention should be paid to the grill instructions to ensure required safety clearances are maintained.

The Winston-Salem Fire Department will be glad to help citizens who have questions about potential fire hazards in their homes. To speak to a fire safety professional, contact your neighborhood fire station or call 336-773-7900 during normal business hours.