Column: Fire safety key to enjoying barbecue season

Capt. Rob Kivell is the Oak Bay Fire Department’s fire prevention officer

Column: Fire safety key to enjoying barbecue season

Before you step out on your back patio or your cottage deck to begin, there are a few steps you must take to ensure that your propane or natural gas barbecue is in safe, good working order. Follow these safety tips as you inspect your barbecue

Dirt and debris can build up inside the grill over the winter months. Carefully clean out any particles, dust, and cobwebs that may have built up over the winter. Newer barbecues have spider guards to prevent them from entering the burner and burner tubes, however if yours does not, use a pipe cleaner or wire to ensure that spider webs have not built up inside. Remove lava rocks and grates for a thorough cleaning with soap and warm water.

Clean your burner ports to ensure they are free of dirt and rust.

Make sure that the barbecue hose is in good condition, and is free of cracks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing. Propane or Natural Gas leaking from a cracked hose may send out a stream that if ignited can produce huge flames.

Check to ensure that all connections are tight and that there are no leaks. You can brush a mixture of soap and water onto the connections and hoses (a 50/50 mix) and any rising bubbles will indicate a leak. Repair your barbecue so that there are no more bubbles.

Rusty, damaged propane tanks should be replaced by 10 years of age or less.

If you have uncertainty about the condition of any barbecue part you should replace it with a new component. Parts are available at most hardware stores and building supply centers.

Call a certified fuel appliance repair person if you do not feel comfortable completing safety checks yourself.

How do I properly light my barbecue?

When your barbecue is safe and ready to be used, begin by opening the lid. Always have the lid in the open position when lighting the grill.

Next turn on the gas by opening the Natural Gas Valve or Propane Cylinder Valve. After this step has been completed, turn on the barbecue at the grill controls.

Finally, light the barbecue by depressing the igniter button.

If your barbecue does not have an igniter button, insert a long match or barbecue lighter into the side burner hole. Have the match lit before you turn on the grill controls.

If the burner does not ignite, keep the lid open, turn off the gas and wait five minutes before trying once again.

How to shut off your barbecue

First shut off your Natural Gas or Propane Cylinder valve so that any remaining gas in the hose line burns off.

Then turn off your burner controls so that no gas remains trapped within the hose.

Allow your barbecue some significant ‘cooling off’ time prior to covering it.

For further information please feel free to contact the Fire Prevention Division of the Oak Bay Fire Department at 250-592-9121.

Over the past week, Oak Bay Fire Department members responded to 29 calls for assistance May 7 to 13.

These calls for assistance included:

20 – Medical Aid

2 – Residential / Commercial Alarm Bells

4 – Public Assistance

1 – Electrical Problem

1 – Hazardous Materials Response

1 – Compressed Gas Leak

Capt. Rob Kivell is the Oak Bay Fire Department’s fire prevention officer.