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Is there a law regarding barbecue grills on patios or balconies in apartment communities?

Ken Little

There are regulations concerning grills on patios or balconies.

“We do not recommend using grills in enclosed areas,” says Matt Davis, deputy fire chief and fire marshal for the New Hanover County Fire Service.

“As with any cooking device, make sure you keep it away from any combustible material and do not leave it unattended,” adds Assistant Chief Frank Blackley, of the Wilmington Fire Department.

The N.C. Fire Prevention Code includes a section covering open-flame cooking devices.

“Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction,” the code states.

There are exceptions in the code for one- and two-family dwellings and “where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.”

The only grills that can be on a balcony with fire sprinklers “are charcoal burner or other open-flame cooking devices,” Blackley says. “No (liquefied petroleum) can be used on a balcony or within 10 feet even if there are fire sprinklers.”

An exception covers one- and two-family dwellings. The code restricts LP gas-burners “to small tabletop grills or units that might be used in cooking within residential occupancies.”

The exception allows the use of LP-gas barbecue grills “of any size on balconies of one- and two-family dwellings, but not on balconies or decks of multiple family dwellings where the property and life safety hazard is greater.”

To report a violation, contact the Wilmington Fire Department’s Fire and Life Safety Division at (910) 343-0696 during business hours Monday through Friday. Contact the New Hanover County Fire Service main number at (910) 798-7420 for questions or concerns, Davis said.

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