Wildfire Prevention Tip #3: Barbecue with Caution

August 30th, 2013

Barbecuing baby-back ribs, brisket, chicken, and other fare in the backyard over a weekend during the summer is normally considered a fine Texas tradition! And more often than not, we probably store our prized barbecue pit/mobile kitchen on our deck…yep, that old wooden deck, and on occasion may have even cooked with our pit on that deck, or put the pit back on the deck with the coals still in it. As we did, we may have been breaking the law. See Section 308.1.4 from the COA's building code (bold, italic, underscore added by us for emphasis):

"308.1.4 Residential barbecue pits and incinerators. No person may construct, erect, install, maintain or use any incinerator or barbecue pit or burn any combustible material to constitute a fire hazard by the use or burning or to endanger the life or property of any person. Residential barbecue pits, hibachis or other cooking appliances utilizing charcoal, wood or gas as a fuel may not be stored or used on any balconies of residential occupancies, or other combustible balconies within five feet measured horizontally from any portion of a combustible building, or within fifteen feet measured along the shortest distance if the pit is located below any portion of a combustible building."

With all of the current awareness on Urban Wildfires and safety for our families and homes, we need to re-evaluate our great cooking hobby. It is suggested that our pride-and-joy pit be stored and used on a smooth, hard, non-combustible surface like concrete, stone, packed gravel, packed soil, etc. at least five feet from our houses and out-buildings, or fifteen feet away if the pit is lower than any part of a combustible building. We also should be sure there are no other combustibles such as firewood, fallen leaves, or dry landscaping near the pit if it is the least bit warm, and follow reasonable precautions in disposing any remaining coals.

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