Summer Fire Safety Tips: Grilling and Backyard Campfires

  • Published
  • By Adam Megnin, Fire Inspector, 788th Civil Engineer Squadron
  • 788th Civil Engineer Squadron

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Warm weather is upon us, and residents of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base may be looking forward to enjoying outdoor activities like grilling and backyard campfires. While these can create lasting memories with family and friends, it is essential to prioritize fire safety. Let’s review key fire safety tips and base regulations to so that you enjoy these summer activities.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, grilling-related fires peak in July (18%), followed by June (15%), May (13%), and August (12%). Gas grills were involved in an average of 8,900 home fires per year, with leaks or breaks being the primary issue. Charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in 1,300 home fires per year. From 2014 to 2018, an average of 19,700 patients per year went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills. Nearly half (9,500 or 48%) of these injuries were thermal burns, with children under five accounting for an average of 2,000 or 39% of the contact-type burns per year.


- Ensure the area is clear of any flammable materials, such as dry grass, leaves, or overhanging tree branches.

- Position the barbecue or campfire at least 10 feet away from any structures, including your home, shed, or garage.

- Charcoal and gas grills, deep pot fryers, gas heat lamps, must not be used under overhangs or awnings.


- Inspect your barbecue grill for any damage, such as rust or cracks, before using it.

- Make sure your propane tank is in good condition and that all connections are secure. Check for gas leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose and connections. If bubbles appear, this indicates a leak that needs to be addressed.

- For charcoal grills, use a charcoal chimney starter or an electric charcoal starter instead of lighter fluid, which can be dangerous.

- When using a fire pit or building a campfire, ensure it is surrounded by a non-flammable border, such as a ring of rocks or a metal fire ring.

Ohio EPA regulations for backyard campfires:

- Must be fueled with clean seasoned firewood, natural gas, or other clean burning fuel.

- Must not be used for waste disposal.

- Must have a total fuel area of no more than three feet in diameter, and no higher than two feet.

Grilling safety:

- Never leave your barbecue or campfire unattended.

- Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies.

- Don't use gasoline or other flammable liquids to ignite or re-ignite the fire.

- Use long-handled grilling tools to keep a safe distance from the heat.

Backyard campfire safety:

- When you're finished using a propane grill, turn off the burners and the propane tank.

- For charcoal grills, close the vents and let the coals cool down completely before disposing of them in a metal container.

- For campfires and backyard fires, let the fire die down, then pour water or shovel dirt onto the embers until the hissing sound stops. Stir the ashes and continue adding water or dirt until the fire is completely out.


- Discuss fire safety rules with your family and any guests who will be participating in your outdoor activities.

- Supervise children and pets at all times to ensure they maintain a safe distance from the fire.

As you enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities, remember to prioritize fire safety. By following these tips and adhering to WPAFB regulations, you can help protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property from the dangers of fire.

For more information on outdoor fire safety or if you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Wright-Patterson AFB Fire Prevention office at 937-257-4075.

Enjoy your grilling, backyard fires, and campfires responsibly!