Dear PoPville – Looking for BBQ Grilling Regulations

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 10.42.14 AM
Photo by PoPville flickr user Wake Up The Giant

“Dear PoPville,

I believe you’ve answered this question in the past, but perhaps with summer in full swing you might be able to provide some guidance as to what the regulations are in DC in regards to BBQ grills. I’m pretty sure that open flames are not allowed within 10 feet of anything combustible and balconies, but where I’m confused is, I have a ground floor patio. While I do not have at least 10 feet, I have read on the web that there are exceptions for natural gas grills. Calls to DCRA have not yielded me any definitive response as of yet. I would love to have a gas grill on my patio and would be willing to install a natural gas line to get that done, but I need to find out if it’s legal first. Any way you can help me find that out? Thanks!”

12 Comment

  • Why not go to your local firehouse and ask the LT or Cpt?

  • NO ONE is going to stop you from grilling food on your own patio. Only exception would be if the flames were getting dangerously close to a structure or putting others at risk.

  • From the proposed and approved rule making ammendemnt in January of this year:

    Strike Section 308.1.4 of the International Fire Code in its entirety and insert new Section
    308.1.4 to the Fire Code in its place to read as follows:

    308.1.4 Open-flame cooking devices. Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking
    devices shall not be operated on balconies or within 10 feet (3048mm) of any building or
    combustible construction.

    1. Detached single-family dwellings.
    2. Where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler
    3. Natural gas grills approved and installed in accordance with the Construction
    Codes, provided that such grills are installed on a non-combustible surface and
    located 10 feet (3048 mm) or more from any combustible construction.

  • Is that Andy Samberg? What’s he doing grilling in DC???

  • novadancer

    We recently bought a ng grill and according to our contractor it could not be installed on our deck but could be on the driveway (right next to the deck). This is what we followed… although I can’t tell if it’s still a proposal

  • Just be safe. If you’re 9.5 feet from your house instead of 10 or even 5 feet from your house… just be safe. Dont light a charcoal fire directly under the wood structure of a balcony or under a tree. If you have a fire pit, same rule but be further away than for a grill.

    The worst thing that would happen the first time is the fire department may show up and tell you what the rules are. However, I dont think anyone can recall something happening to someone who was using general common sense.

  • Use common sense if your concern is your neighbors, fire dept, etc. Most people in the city do not care.

    If something horrific happened, however, your insurance company would probably say that any damage resulting from a grill in violation of safety standards is probably your own fault. Same for your condo building’s master policy.

  • It’s not BBQ! It’s grilling.

  • If you’re grilling with an open flame, there’s two sources you need to go to: DC Fire Marshal and DCRA – building code and fire code — The District of Columbia Fire Prevention Code Outdoor Grill Safety and District of Columbia Building Code Supplement.

    In short: if you can grill in the alley or your yard, you’re going to be OK and grill however you want, gas, charcoal, electric. Just be about 10 feet away from your house and get your grill on!

    If you’re trying to grill with an open flame on your deck/balcony things get complicated.

    If you live in single family home, open flame grills are prohibited UNLESS they’re fueled by a natural gas hard installed line that has an outdoor control valve. You would definitely want to make sure whoever installs your natural gas line is up to date on DC building and fire code. So, if you’re grilling with an LP gas grill on your deck in a single family home, your neighbors could call DC Fire and complain if you’re grilling illegally, but DC Fire does not have right of entry unless you’re actually grilling with an open flame.

    If you live in an apartment/condo building, check your building rules – as in many cases any open flame grills (charcoal or LP — maybe even natural gas) are prohibited, and since you’re in a multi-unit building, the DC Fire Marshal has right of entry to inspect your unit at anytime and issue a citation. So yes, if you live in an apartment/condo the DC Fire Marshal can issue a citation for having an open flame grill illegally on your deck/balcony.

    So if you can’t grill with an open flame on your deck/balcony, take a look at the growing world of electric grills >> the Char-Broil TRU is pretty decent >> — set it up with a smoker box and some wood chips and you’ll do OK.

Comments are closed.