The cottager’s guide to grill fires

Firing up the barbecue is a habit seared into the hearts of cottagers, but without the right precautions, the perfect steak can become the perfect recipe for a cottage catastrophe. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 9,000 fires every year begin with the barbecue, and five out of six involve gas grills. So while the meat is still marinating, let’s look at four common causes of grill fires at the cottage.

You’ve got grease

Grease fires usually start with overflowing grease traps. Think about it: when you’re grilling with your preferred fuel source, you’re also creating a secondary fuel source in the form of fat that drips from those well-marbled ribeyes. And since a closed grill can quickly reach high temperatures, that buildup of grease can ignite, sending flames where you least want them—especially if your grill is situated too close to your cottage. To avoid grease fires, check your grease pan on a regular basis to make sure it’s not overflowing. It doesn’t have to be spotless, but a quick wipe will make sure there isn’t a dangerous accumulation.

You’re sharing your grill with spiders

Flashback fires often happen when spiders set up shop in your grill’s venturi tubes, which transmit gas to the burner. Spiders love your grill’s dark, enclosed tubes just as much as they love lounging in your boathouse, and their webs may cause blockages that can send flames out through your grill’s control knobs, posing a serious fire risk. To prevent flashback fires, clean each tube with a bottle brush or venturi cleaner, which looks like an 18-inch toothbrush with a flexible head. Do this throughout the summer, but especially at the start of cottage season, and you’ll be less likely to singe your eyebrows—or worse.

Give your grill some space

Nothing dampens cottagers’ spirits like a rainy long weekend. Which is why some place their grill under a deck awning so they can fire it up rain or shine. Winter cottagers are equally tempted to keep the grill close so they can flip steaks without donning a parka. But according to the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council, all grills should be kept away from “wooden fences, wooden walls, combustible overhead roofs, and from trees with low branches.” With a little wind off the lake, flashback or grease fires can reach three feet beyond your grill, putting your cottage at risk.

Give the grill your full attention

We already see our share of distracted drivers texting while crawling along the 400 every Friday, and “distracted grilling” can be just as dangerous. Even if your grease trap and venturi tubes are clean and your grill is a safe distance from your cottage, leaving your grill unattended could spark trouble—especially if you have pets or kids up for the weekend. By staying close to what you’re cooking, you’ll be ready to react to whatever flares up.

Be prepared when things heat up

For grill fires or other small fires at your cottage, the First Alert EZ Fire Spray is an easy-to-use alternative to traditional fire extinguishers, which many people have said they aren’t comfortable using. The lightweight EZ Fire Spray is easy to hold and use—just point and spray—and it discharges four times longer than traditional fire extinguishers. Its formula is also biodegradable and easy to clean, so it’s perfect for your cottage kitchen, boat, or right beside your grill.

Learn more about First Alert EZ Fire Spray at