Arlington, VA


With prime grilling season approaching, the fire department is reminding apartment, condo, duplex and townhouse dwellers that open flame cooking on balconies is not only extremely dangerous, but a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arlington.

“A lot of people, they don’t really think about it, they just go out and grill,” said Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Gregg Karl. The end result, often times, looks like the video above, or like this news report from Spokane, Wash.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are some 5,700 grill fires annually, causing 10 deaths, 100 injuries and tens of million of dollars worth of property damage. Many of those fires start in multifamily dwellings.

Because of the danger to the public, laws against apartment grilling are strict. Anyone caught grilling illegally in Arlington can face up to 1 year in jail or a $2,500 fine, Karl said.

Rather than firing up a gas or charcoal grill on your balcony, one option is to use an electric grill.

“Only electric cookers and electric grills are allowed on balconies of [multifamily] occupancies,” the fire department says on its ‘Barbecue Safety’ web site. “No charcoal cooker, brazier, hibachi, grill or any gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquid or liquefied petroleum gas-fired stove or similar device… shall be ignited or used on the balconies of any apartment building, stacked units, or other structures with similar occupancy.”

(The fire department’s web site also includes what we’re told is a “delicious” recipe for ‘Fire Chief Flank Steak’ from Chief James Schwartz.)

Karl said anyone with questions about the regulations should contact their building manager or call the county’s fire prevention office at 703-228-4644.

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