Summer season is upon us. Warm days and nights provide the perfect conditions for grilling outdoors on a deck, patio, or balcony. That makes this the ideal time to think about fire safety and to review Ohio’s laws on grilling and the use of open-flame cooking devices.
The Ohio Fire Code states, “Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction.” Open-flame cooking includes gas grills and fire pits. Combustible construction includes the vast majority of homes and decks. Violations of the Fire Code expose the individual grilling on the balcony or deck or anywhere within 10 feet of their home to fines imposed by the fire department.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the Ohio Fire Code. The law does not apply to single-family and two-family dwellings. As a result, condominium or homeowner association residences that are free standing buildings or where only 2 units or homes share a common wall are exempt from the law. The law also does not apply to multi-family dwellings when the building, balconies, and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system. This exception requires the building have automatic sprinklers specifically designated for the balconies and decks, which substantially limits the number of buildings that qualify for this exception.
When considering whether to allow the use of grills and fire pits, fire safety and protecting the residents should be the priority. Our office recommends that boards publish the following if a property has 3 or more residences attached together:
In accordance with the Ohio Fire Code, use of charcoal burners, gas grills, or any other type of open-flame devices is prohibited within 10 feet of a multi-family building. The Ohio Fire Code also prohibits operation of such devices on balconies and decks. Violations of the Fire Code should be reported to the local Fire Department at the non-emergency phone number.
Your local city and fire department may have put additional restrictions in place. If you have questions whatsoever about using grills, open fire pits, or other cooking devices, contact your local fire department.