Post date: Jul 7, 2016 9:47:58 PM

Legal Corner…

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By Lynda L. Kovach, Esq.

Winter has passed and everyone is looking forward to a summer of warm weather, fun, and grilling outdoors. As you are aware, on September 5, 2005, the Ohio Department of Commerce and State Fire Marshal Division adopted the new Ohio Fire Code regulations governing the operation of open-flame cooking devices such as charcoal, propane, and gas grills, and open fire pits.

At that time, the Fire Code banned, with a few exceptions, an open-flame device including propane, gas, and charcoal barbeque grills to be operated anywhere within ten (10) feet of combustible construction. Combustible construction includes, for example, fences, railings, decks, balconies, etc. All condominium and homeowner properties with three (3) or more homes under one roof were required to comply with the law. These regulations dampened many traditional family get-togethers and plans to grill outside.

In response to complaints from community association owners, the initial restrictions against grilling on decks and balconies were revised. The Fire Code did not and still does not apply to: 1) single-family and two-family dwellings that are freestanding or where only two units or homes share a common wall and 2) where in multi-family buildings, balconies or decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

Revised Section 308.3.1 of the Ohio Fire Code now allows for charcoal barbeque grilling if the following stringent conditions are met:

    • An owner must have the approval from the City Fire Marshal or authorized official to operate a charcoal barbeque grill. The City Fire Marshal or authorized official may approve a charcoal barbeque grill being operated on a combustible deck, balcony, or cooking site located within ten (10) feet of combustible construction IF;
    • The charcoal grill is attended by an adult at all times when in operation;
    • A portable fire extinguisher, as approved by the Fire Marshal, must be located on the combustible deck, balcony or at the cooking site. The portable fire extinguisher must be operable and maintained in accordance with National Fire Protection Association (“NFPA”) standards; and
    • All non-structural combustible material such as furniture, throw pillows, patio umbrellas, paper goods, etc., must be removed from the cooking site that is located within ten (10) feet of combustible construction.
    • The Fire Code also provides that any liquid petroleum gas container having a water capacity greater than 2.5 pounds shall NOT be located (stored) on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction. The only exception to this restriction is if the dwelling is a single family or two-family building.

Any violation of the above restrictions may expose an owner who uses a charcoal grill on a deck or balcony to being fined by the Fire Marshal. Please note, the Fire Code still prohibits propane and gas fueled cooking devices on combustible balconies or within ten (10) feet of combustible construction. Remember, your local fire department may have adopted further restrictions such as prohibiting grilling on any type of town home structure. If you have any further questions about using cooking devices or an open fire pit on multi-family dwelling decks or balconies or whether an item is combustible or non-combustible, please telephone your local Fire Department.

*(The law firm of Kaman & Cusimano represents our Association)