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California Renters Have Beef With Fire Safety BBQ Ban

California Renters Have Beef With Fire Safety BBQ Ban


By Lisa Fernandez – Mercury News

David Farren loves to unwind by barbecuing on his third-story Campbell apartment balcony. Rib-eye steaks. Teriyaki chicken. Beef rubbed with olive oil and rosemary.

But this age-old rite of outdoor cooking is under attack.

This summer will be California’s first when it’s against the law to grill on many wooden apartment or condominium balconies.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Farren, who learned about the new rule when a flier from the Santa Clara County Fire Department landed on his doorstep recently. “I don’t really know how to cook meat in a stove. I can’t cook my rib-eye steak in a frying pan. It just doesn’t work for me.”

Following similar codes already adopted elsewhere in the nation, the barbecue ban went into effect Jan. 1 across California in a sweeping effort to prevent fires. The National Fire Protection Association reports that barbecues sparked 8,300 fires nationwide in 2005, causing $137 million in property damage.

So for Farren, a facilities manager at a company that makes military tanks, it’s: Break the law, shelve his two Weber grills or move.

It’s not as if all barbecuing is off-limits. Grilling with charcoal and natural gas are still OK on apartment decks with automatic sprinklers. Grilling with propane is OK if tanks are tiny, fit for camping. All grilling is OK if apartment balconies are made of non-combustible materials such as stucco, concrete or brick. And the new rules don’t affect single-family homes and duplexes.

If someone’s barbecue torches a typical home, the damage is usually limited to that property, said Santa Clara County Fire Department Deputy Chief Dirk Mattern. But if that same fire breaks out in an apartment building, lots of people are endangered.

On May 3, for example, firefighters rushed to stamp out a three-alarm blaze in Sunnyvale that began with a barbecue on a second-floor balcony. The fire damaged all 18 units in the Morse Avenue apartment building.

While the barbecuing codes have been in effect for five months, enforcing them is just now heating up, as Memorial Day launched the nation into high-gear barbecue season. About a month ago, Santa Clara County firefighters began alerting landlords about the new rules. Tenants like Farren started complaining.

Every three years, California cities update their building and fire safety codes. This year, California’s Building Standards Commission decided for the first time to adopt most of the rules in what’s called the International Fire Code. But the state let individual cities weigh in on the open-flame grills.

Every city in Santa Clara County decided to adopt the more stringent barbecue codes. The two sections are buried in the minutia of thick new code books. Many building code inspectors and city code enforcers still didn’t know about the new law until the Mercury News or Santa Clara County firefighters recently told them.

Mattern said his department launched a “low-key” public awareness campaign in Campbell first, as the city of nearly 40,000 residents is rich in high-density apartments.

“We know this is going to be a big deal for a lot of folks,” Mattern said. “And so far, we’ve had mixed reactions. But some of the landlords are loving it. They know their tenants will want to barbecue, so they’ve actually developed a little barbecue area for everyone to share.”

Authorities acknowledge that enforcing the barbecue ban is not going to be a top priority. They certainly won’t dress up in “BBQ police” T-shirts on weekends, and go sniffing for the scent of grilled meats wafting from high-rises.

But if a neighbor complains, and firefighters show up, there are penalties they can dole out.

While a first offense will lead to little more than a lecture, the fourth visit to the same address could lead to a $500 fine. And in extreme cases, the belligerent barbecuer could face misdemeanor criminal charges.

Kirsten Carr, spokeswoman for the California Apartment Association, Tri-County division, first heard about the new ban from a Campbell landlord. She’s hosting a meeting on Tuesday so that fire experts can explain the codes to some of the 2,000 landlords and property managers her organization represents in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties.

Carr hopes her members will brainstorm safe and legal barbecue options. Maybe they could update their building materials, add sprinklers or come up with creative grilling ideas. Outside electric ovens are still deemed fine to use.

“Our first concern is having our residents be safe,” Carr said. “But we want to see if there is something we can do so that our apartment community can still enjoy the amenities of backyard living.”

But there undoubtedly will be grillers such as Farren – and his downstairs neighbor with a fancy smoker – who have a different attitude: defiance.

“I’m not surrendering my barbecue,” he said. “Let them fine me. They’re going to have to break my door down to get it.”

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65 Responses to “California Renters Have Beef With Fire Safety BBQ Ban”

  1. please send me a copy of the law with number it is being use by Community Managment Services to inforce personal vendeda

  2. You make mention of a clause that I was not aware of:

    “Grilling with propane is OK if tanks are tiny, fit for camping”

    can you please provide more information about this apparent loophole?


  3. The following information was provided by the Executive Council of Homeowners:

    In 2007, California updated its Fire Code and adopted portions of the 2006 International Fire Code, including sections 308.3.1 and 308.3.1.1. Those sections effectively ban the use of open-flame cooking devices on combustible decks. This ban became operative on January 1st, 2008. The code is not available online, but you will find a copy of the code in most libraries. The sections read as follows:

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

    1. One- and two-family dwellings.
    2. Where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

    308.3.1.1 Liquefied-petroleum-gas-fueled cooking devices. LP-gas burners having an LP-gas container with a water capacity greater than 2.5 pounds [nominal 1 pound (0.454 kg) LP-gas capacity] shall not be located on combustible balconies or within 10 feet (3048 mm) of combustible construction.

    Exception: One- and two-family dwellings.

    California associations may want to consider modifying their rules to conform to the updated code. In addition, association should contact their insurance agent to find out what impact, if any, this will have on association insurance coverage.

  4. Absolutely ridiculous. How many fires have actually been started in CA by BBQ’s vs other forms of fire (like a kitchen fire or a candle).

    Let’s erode our right to enjoy our homes!

  5. There should be a manufactured flame retardant mat designated for the area that is being used to BBQ in or around.

    To bluntly not offer a solution for wooden decks other than a sprinkler sysytem (which will cost a fortune for a lot of landlords and property owners to have installed) only with no other options is crazy and un-american
    One Pissed-off responsible long time BBQ’er

  6. I just got a notice from my apartment building saying BBQ’s had to be gone by October 4th. I live on the ground floor of a 3 story apartment building that I believe to be stucco. A few months ago we got a notice saying we had to BBQ out in the open quad. My husband and I ahve never BBQ’d on our patio. According to this article, if my patio is stucco then I can do whatever kind of grilling I want!

    But they are saying we can use electric grills. BUt it stops there. They don’t say if we can use them on the patios/balconies or if we still have to take them to the quad. This works well from them to endorse electric grills if we still ahve to take them to the quad for use…there are no electrical outlets there so we could never use them.

    And the sadly ironic thing is the north building of my all electric apartment complex burned down in December 2006 (Long Beach, ca, Paradise Gardens). The fire started on an electric stove top.

  7. LOL…Hey Christine…you got the same notice too. Funny that the notice came out after my brothers and I were barbequeing for my son’s birthday party on the 13th (Saturday) out on the quad. Electric BBQ’s just don’t have the same flavor as good ol charcoal. I don’t see that the law mandates that we remove the grills from the dwellings on the property, just that we can’t use them here. I need to see it in writting, that or they (property management) need to reimburse the residents for our BBQ grills. We were more than 10 ft from the building, but that is besides the point that our freedom to enjoy outdoor cooking at our homes is being attacked. Also good point about the north side fire.

  8. I too recently received a notice from my apartment management asking me to remove my bbq grill. I thought the management was acting cheap to try and reduce it’s insurance premium but I am genuinely SHOCKED to know that it is the LAW. Why is it okay to have bbq pits in the middle of national forests but not on our patios? How many of the recent wild fires were caused by residential grills? We as residents take every precaution to grill responsibly because we have our own possessions to protect. In these hard economic times where Banks, Airlines and Auto giants are going under, the grilling industry will be next to tank. Simply outrageous. It is our inalienable right to grill, and I am not giving up without a fight.

  9. If we provide Extinguisher next to the Barbeque in our backyard can we barbeque???

  10. I also want to understand the comment that says small propane tanks are allowed (the type that you take camping) from what I can tell no propane can be used at all on a deck. Only Electric, a real bummer as I have a nice condo in sunnyvale but it has wood deck and potential renters are turned off by this law.

  11. @Traian, see comment #3 above for a copy of the code. It does not include any exceptions for fire extinguishers.

    @kh, in comment #3 above you will see that the code does not allow a liquefied-petroleum-gas container with a water capacity greater than 2.5 pounds. Since small camping style LPG containers are typically less than this amount they would not be restricted by this code.

  12. Welcome to the nanny state. Stuff like that is why I won’t live in a socialist state like California. Pretty soon all that will live there is Hollywood people and illegal aliens.

  13. could you please send me a copy of this law it would help a great deal…Thanks

  14. Carol, see comment #3 above for the relevant portions of the code. The full code is not available online, but you will find a copy of it at most public libraries.

  15. From the California State Fire Marshal –

    NOT happy about this and my husband, who has been overseas defending our country for 7 months, is not going to be happy either….And the man can’t even cook a steak for himself on his own grill in the country he is defending is freedom for. Not sure about that one.

  16. Just moved here from Seattle due to a job transfer and can’t believe that you can’t bbq if you live in an apt. complex. There goes 3/4 of my menu!!! This so sucks in so many ways. Big brother is alive and well in CA.!!!

  17. What is an “Open Flame Cooking Device” according to the code? It doesn’t seem to be a propane grill with a small camp stove canister to fuel it. If so, is a hard plumbed natural gas grill OK also because it does not have a standard propane tank? Some question and answer statements distributed by some Cities say refer to #308.3.1 regarding Open-Flame Cooking Devices. If a camp stove is not open flame, why would a natural gas grill be considered open flame? Thanks for helping me understand.

  18. Dominic, there are actually two main points of the code that apply here for an apartment building. 308.3.1 bans open flame cooking devices on combustible balconies or within 10 feet (3048 mm) of combustible construction, but provides an exception when automatic fire sprinklers are present.

    308.3.1.1 gives a further restriction on Liquefied-petroleum-gas-fueled cooking devices (i.e. propane) without any exception for automatic fire sprinklers. See comment #3 above for specific code wording.

    So essentially, if you live in an apartment complex, no open flame cooking is permitted on the balcony unless you have automatic sprinklers, where there would be an exception for non-LP gas burners. In the case of a hard plumbed natural gas grill, it would be a good idea to check with your local fire department to see how they are interpreting the codes for this. Technically, a natural gas BBQ is still an open flame cooking device, but some fire departments have made exceptions.

  19. Heres one better! Our fire department in Rancho Cucamonga California is interputing the BBQ code law this way….NO BBQ’s period even with stucco walls and fire sprinklers…what is this world coming toooo…rights, what rights…we all need to ban together to get this ridiculous code overturned. Call the California Fire Chief/Marshall. This is SOOOOOOO UN-AMERICAN…

  20. Do we live in America or in a socialist country? In Cuba they tell you what you can do and what you can’t, and will cut yours if you don’t behave. This is soon to happen here.

  21. You guys are mixing up the concept of socialism with authoritarianism. Perhaps because you equate socialism with communism. Perhaps because you’re retarded, uneducated, or both. That being said… this law sucks. I’m glad my city hasn’t adopted it.

  22. Res Fire, I live in a multifamily housing community with stucco walls and cement balconies that comply with non-combustible by Section 308.3.1 definition
    (Wood or vinyl siding, wood decking, and fabric awnings are examples of combustible construction. For the
    purpose of these regulations, stucco covered walls/ceilings, concrete or tiled floors, and wood railings facing
    the exterior (not between units) are considered to be non-combustible construction. Note that certain
    composite deck and railing materials may also be considered non-combustible for the purpose of these
    regulations. Check with your local Fire Department for approval.)

    Is it lawful for my property manager to ban my grill?

    Thank you,

  23. @Sally, your question does not have a simple answer since laws vary across the US. If your building and balcony is protected by an automatic fire sprinkler system you may have a legitimate argument since section 308.3.1 provides exceptions. I suspect that if you will have any success with your property manager you will first have to check with your local fire department.

  24. I would like to know what I am to do with my four hundred dollar propane pit. My landlord states that we cannot even store them in the garages. I believe that if I get rid of the tank, I should be able to store my pit in my garage until I move.

  25. Do we have any rights to push back on the state about this? Specifically on propane grills. I can see banning charcoal and other uncontrolled open flame grills as i’ve seen one of my neighbors almost light his balcony on fire by dousing it with lighter fluid resulting in a flame 10+ feet high. But propane as well? Just seems silly to me, I’m more likely to light my house on fire in my kitchen on my natural gas stove than outside using a propane grill.

    Further, given the housing crises, especially in california, it seems rediculous to impose such a law on those of us who own our condos. They are basically adding a restriction onto the use of the property that we own that was not in the real estate contracts that we signed when we purchsed it. Can I send a bill back to the state for the cost of my condo since they have chosen to change the laws forcing me to purchase a new condo to continue to enjoy what I once enjoyed as well as devaluing my condo by putting this additional use restriction on my property?

  26. So, I have a little camping Propane grill that uses the smaller/disposable propane tanks. Can I use this device? its under 1lb. I do have a balcony that has a concrete floor, but wood siding and roof.

  27. I would LOVE for anyone to show me where, in the cited NFPA code it says anything about the need to get rid of grills. Just quote me the actual code that says I cannot have own a grill. The code says I cannot store a large LP tank and it clearly states that it is a violation to USE OR KINDLE such a device but it absolutely does NOT say that it is against the law to have a non-working (i.e. a grill not in use or kindled) on a balcony or in my damn bedroom if I so desire. Fire depts are interpreting the law – plain and simple – that is not their job – and apt managers are simply folding and making ridiculous demands. IF I light my now useless grill then fine me – if I don’t and I don’t store propane then get off my back….

  28. We live in a condo (that we own) in San Mateo county and we are under the same bbq restrictions as apts. Now our HOA insurance carrier is threatening to cancel our coverage if bbqs aren’t removed from decks. I’m sick of this.

    Does anyone know if there is any kind of group effort to overturn this so-called law?

    Does anyone have any idea of how to pursue some kind of process to overthrow this thing?

    I believe that condo and apt. owners are being discriminated against as a class.

    Any ideas out there how to fight this?

  29. This is a national problem. I live in Kentucky and they also adopted the NFPA regulations as have most, if not all, states. What I have been unable to determine is if anyone has taken this to court. Clearly it would fail in court. For example, it is against code/law for me to hunt rabbits with a shotgun off of the balcony of my apt but that does not mean anyone can force me to get rid of my gun – it means I can be charged and/or fined IF I DO HUNT off my balcony. The fire code clearly says that the violation is in the USE OR KINDLING of a grill – not in the ownership of a grill. Locally, the fire dept sent out a memo warning apt management that they would be fined if we did not remove grills. The apt mgmt should have said “no – that isn’t the law” but of course they caved. My concern is that it is probably perfectly legal for apt managers to make this demand even though they are caving into a bogus threat that would not hold up in court. Hell, I could use a big stew pot to grill with charcoal but are they making me get rid of stew pots too? And the lack of compensation really pisses me off – I mean I pad good $ for this grill and now they simply decide I must throw it away?

  30. Why then are they still forcing smokers to smoke outdoors where the wind takes hot sparks everywhere instead of safly putting out butts indoors in a fire resistant ashtray? This seems so stupid in a state well known for wildfires.

  31. As an avid outdoor BBQ enthusiast, I support the idea of having the ability to cook outdoors anywhere in the universe. I recently moved into a 30 unit apartment complex that ruled against BBQ grills on the patio. Since then the landlord has installed a community ‘built-in’ natural gas grill that is ‘brick insulate’ & centered near the pool area. The commercial unit is designed for convection grilling w/ a hooded-cover. The open cooking method uses SS burner covers utilizing a ‘grease catch pan’ to not cause ‘flare-ups’.

  32. I own my own apartment in an 18 unit own your own apartment building. There are presently only three owner residents. The other 15 aparments are all renter occupied. I love the out doors and have placed patio tables, chairs, planters etc in the back yard for the use of all residents. Reciently I purchased a nice propane four burner barbeque also for the use of all. But with with safty precautions of a locked propane tank. With only two persons haveing keys to access. Our building has fire sprinklers the unit is placed about six feet from the building and is on a cement patio and the out door water hose is always right close by on and ready if an emergency happens. Before my purchasing this new barbeque, we had the old briquett type. No one ever complainedbut now one other owner, landlord has complained. I do not want to break any laws nor harm others. Just how does this law apply to us? Section 308.3.1 or any other law?

  33. How about propane heaters. Are there any laws against having them on balconies?

  34. What I did is I spoke to my local fire dept. They told me that if you have a deck that has a cement base you can use a propane grill, Also note that you cant have more than five ponds of propane in the tank.

  35. As a renter this law doesn’t bother me. I am severely allergic to lighter fluid and while I respect people’s right to BBQ, the lack of windows and close quarters of apartments gives me no choice but to smell the fumes. What they should ban is lighter fluid, not BBQs…

    Bob – they are forcing smokers to smoke outdoors for health, not fire-safety reasons. Second hand smoke kills. Sorry.

  36. Hello there everyone I just got this letter from my apartment manger stating that that we have 30 day s to get rid of our BBQ WTF is this world comming to come on people were in charge not them. Then they say as long aas we have sprinlers NOT our problem thats managments problem if u live in an apartment like I do but if the go and do that then there just going to raise our rent if they ban BBQ’s then its managments job to to have safe BBQ facilites for there residence. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE NOW!!!!!!!

  37. I have to admit that I knew about this law for some time, but was ignoring since my manager/landlord never said anything about it. And some of the folks here have been using charcoal just outside their apartments in broad daylight. We have a mid sized propane job on our patio. Tonight, more than 1 year since the law was implemented, she finally gave everyone notices. Unfortunately, the notice says we have to get rid of our grills immediately…meaning I won’t have time to sell it, clean it and move it to my folks’ house, or anything other than throw out the $90 grill we bought less than 2 years ago.

  38. What garbage! I just got the notice today. My complex didn’t even have the decency to notify us until AFTER July 4th. But they put the screws to everyone. My manager loves it cos she’s been harassing me over a cover on my barbecue for years. I get a 3 day notice when my bbq isn’t covered, but every other bbq in the complex is uncovered and they get no notice. She just hates me! So she’s loving this. The worst apartment manager ever. She allows every gangbanging thug around to move in here and harasses me over a bbq. Now this. They built these pits last summer, and probably rent them out. Who knows? I refuse to use theirs. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go to Sears and buy one of their units. It’s just a shame. As renters, we get so little from our property manager, and one of the small pleasures of life gets taken away. And they should have given us a copy of this law that’s so critical to follow. I had a hell of a time finding out what the law was, it’s so inconsequential in terms of the priorites of life. We have had huge wildfires in California the 11 years I’ve lived here, truly epic fires, and not one had any connection to a bbq. Now cigarrettes, that’s a different story. Cigarrettes have been involved in so many fires, not to mention arson! But we need to stop bbq’s!

  39. Hello All,

    I just got a flyer yesterday from our property managers. Does anyone know if there has been an effort to appeal the law? Would be pretty straightforward to put a proposition in the next voting ballot to overturn this law. Or are we all f**ked?

  40. What if I live in a apartment & cook my dinner on a ‘stove top’ Farberware electric rotissere barbque (made for indoor food barbqueing) sitting on my wooden countertop and my neighbor smells my food cooking because I like to have open windows in my apartment when I cook……..would I be then breaking the law?

  41. Here in Mill Valley we also received a “get rid of it by July 1st” notice. Our 8 year old outdoor grill is of a very high quality – basically it’s another an applicance. I have scrupulously maintained the valves and regulator, new propane bottles, stainless steel components etc. I personally feel that this device is far safer than using an electric broiler indoors – and national statistics I’ve studied bear this out. I did comply with the law, and gave our 1200 dollar bbq to friends with a single family home. We now are using a 1 lb cylinder lps bbq, which is a bit like turning in a car and instead driving a golf cart on the freeway. The days of entertaining 6 or 8 for a grilled meal are gone, and the type of cooking we can do is very limited. I think the law should be modified to regulate the safety of the grills used, as opposed to making an outright ban. I would gladly submit to a periodic fire departement inspection / re-certification of my grill than to give up a major part of out lifestyle.

  42. Where have you gone my rights,this is really something,love this guy marren”landlord love it everybody can spend my day waiting a hour trying to cook my.steaks while everybody is cooking before me,I would. To start my dinner at 1200 because that the only time I could use. trust me I have grilling on patio before I want real numbers before we start taking my rights away. stupid is ,is what stupid does. Not going to take a special time bbq outside enjoying it. candel start fire,paper start fires,wood start fires, moron start fires.psychos starts you get the idea.give me a break.

  43. Laws are created for a reason. Although you may be a safe user of propane grills, not everyone is that smart. The neighbor who lives above me parties, smokes cigarettes on the deck and has now installed a small propane grill on a high table with a new propane tank. The problem is his deck is covered and it’s right up against the vinyl siding. The law in Kentucky says no grilled under covered spaces or close to buildings. My lease and his state no grills period on the deck.

    Another concern is the safe storage of propane tanks. Not possible. They should never be stored indoors i.e. carbon monoxide poisoning, explosions and fires! It’s so scary because when you live in an apartment complex, you don’t really know what people have stored in their units, garages, or storage units for that matter. I’m sure there are knowledgeable users of propane or charcoal grills but obviously my upstairs neighbor is not one of them. I’ve contacted the apt manager and the fire marshall because everything I own is in my apartment along with four adopted animals, the loves of my life. They are not replaceable.

  44. My apartment managers are giving 3 day fix or quit notices this is not right

  45. January 2nd, 2009 at 8:20 pm
    Robert Camp said:
    “Welcome to the nanny state. Stuff like that is why I won’t live in a socialist state like California. Pretty soon all that will live there is Hollywood people and illegal aliens. ”

    Rather thoughtless comment don’t you think? Redneck States like Kentucky have had city or county ordinances for years: more restrictive than this.

    I don’t like it but it is a growing trend pushed by corporations to get out of responsibility if there is a fire. I lived in one apartment that tried to tell me I couldn’t burn candles!!! Unfortunately they didn’t have any rules about the use of crack pipes which burned out 4 units one winters night!

  46. First, let me say that I understand how many of you feel that these codes that are being adopted across the nation seem irrational and unjustified. I would feel the same way as well if I didn’t have the benefit of additional perspective.

    For many years I have worked in both residential property management and construction. I can tell you without hesitation that these laws are easily justifiable. I have personally seen a condominimum building burn to the ground as a result of a very small hibachi grill being used on a porch with another just above it, seemingly with plenty of clearance. I will admit using it in such a manner does not (or atleast did not) seem dangerous in the least.

    Many people do not realize how intense the heat from a grill is- even many feet above the grill surface. When it’s said and done though, I’m sure plenty of folks will get away with doing just what they want anyway, but don’t be surprised when your perspective changes too. You may have supreme confidence in your ability to make sure nothing happens, but how much do you trust your neighbor(s)?

  47. How can we fight for our rights. If i am doing charcoal bbq on an open concrete and the smoke is not bothering anyone, what kind of an asshole will go and complain to the HOA about me doing BBQ. I am in Glendale, CA.

  48. I some all of my bbq and I use a pitmaster grill and the fire is control inside the pit. What can we do to use this kind of grill. It’s been watch all the time.

  49. This is beyond ridiculous…….. These apartments can continue to raise the rent as the tenants get less and less……. People are suppose to have rights and freedoms in USA. Ok so there are new codes and standards great so lets see? Maybe just maybe these bulidings should do timely repairs, get rid of loud noise tenants who distribe others on a regularly… I don’t see that happening??? Why is that we ( the tenants) have to make all sacfices and pay the high price of rent… We need to take a stand but will anyone listen???

  50. Wow, just got a notice too. Lots to say.

    First: Ken, your perspective and sanity should be applauded, however, you story would have been a lot more valuable if you could have explained EXACTLY how the small Hibachi started the fire that burned down an entire condo bldg. Did you actually see the fire start or did you just see the building burn down? If you didn’t see it start, how do you know exactly how it began? Could there have been other extenuating circumstances? Could it have been kicked over? Maybe it’s small unstable grills that are the problem?
    The point is most people, including myself, don’t really see how a fire could start from a small hibachi or even a gas grill. and maybe you’re in a position to help us understand that.

    Maybe lighter fluid should be the target as it could potentially cause a huge flame (as noted by another writer, above), but the gas grill on my patio, and certainly most everyone else’s, does not seem to generate a big enough “open” flame to burn down anything around it. I think that is partially why everyone is so angry.

    Now, by the numbers… there is risk involved in every activity in our lives.
    If you take the actual number of “offending grills” in this country and multiply that by the number of times they are used (on average) each year, I think you will come up with a very high number. Consider then the related # of times each year that a substantial fire has broken out by that cause. Well, could some one show us those numbers please?……

  51. Fire prevention is a good thing and should be practiced by everyone. Fires happen everday that could have been prevented. Some caused by idiots, others caused by understandable accidents. The problem is that we can’t ban everything that causes fires. I’m sure there are substantially more fires caused from candles, smoking, and kitchen accidents that BBQ grills. Only its impossible to make those things illegal, why that would just be rediculous, you can’t ban cooking. But grills, we can see them outside, and people don’t absolutely need them to eat, so yeah lets ban those. This law is absolutely rediculous. I grill everyweek all through winter on a wooden porch in a 4 apartment house. I have an expensive, well maintained grill and use it properly, there is no more of a chance of fire, than if I were cooking inside.
    Of course there are idiots, who don’t take care of there grill and don’t practice safe grilling techniques. Just as there are people who don’t practice safe candle burning, cigerette smoking, and cooking techniques. Grills were picked to be banned only because its something they can actually enforce.
    Personally I refuse to obey a law that does not make any sense.

  52. I recently moved purchased a new bbq grill. I can say that I knew about the law from living at my old apartment. Before moving here I asked my Property manager if it was ok to have and use Gas Grill and she said that the HOA has no restrictions. I dont see any other grills on the property but can smell the bbq cooking. The complex manager lives next door so it doesnt seem to be a problem (so far. I’ll continue enjoying my grill till I hear otherwise. Lets just hope that the First visit from the Fire Marshall comes with a warning…

  53. This law punishes, restricts, limits only the poor. Those who can own a home or newer condo, or live in an expensive new apartment are unaffected. The poor cannot afford to fight back, so it’s law a enacted with impunity.

    Find out who your state representative is and ASK THEM how they voted on this. Punish them by not voting for them if they voted for this asinine law.

  54. I think they should only enforce this law on unstable bbq like the tri-pod ones that can be knocked or blowen over with no effort.

  55. If the codes are reviewed every there years, and the last review was 2007 then there should be an upcoming review of the fire codes this year. How do we find out when this occurs?

  56. The typical interpretation allowed for ground floor units with non-combustible (i.e.: stucco) walls and concrete floors to use gas and charcoal grills – your local Fire Chief may differ. It appears the Code does not make an exception for wood-framed balconies even with tough floors like Dex-O-Tex on lightweight concrete. That’s been my research to date and I managed to keep my CharBroil Grill in place and active even after being served with notice a year ago – I got the local Fire Chief to admit in an email that it wasn’t an issue. YMMV

  57. You know the old expression “There ought to be a law.” But law applies to everyone. I applies to the one who says it too. So next time you complain about your neighbor bbqing some some hot dogs just remember it works both ways. The law applies to everyone evn you.

  58. I live in the second floor apartment of two-story/ 8 unit apartment building. A couple moved in downstairs and placed a huge portable barbeque on the 3’X12’ balcony, right under my apartment. They use the barbeque almost every day (some times during thye day). I am an ‘open windows/no AC’ person and they fill my apartment with smoke, stink of the burning meat, garlic and other smells to the point that when I come home from work I sometimes have a hard time breathing. It has been going on for almost a year and while the landlord is refusing to do anything about it, I attempted to talk to them but only result was me getting cursed out.
    Does anyone know if it is legal to have and operate an open flame/gas operated barbecue in the multi dwelling unit not protected by fire sprinklers in Beverly Hills, CA. Thank you in advance for helping me (and the cave dwellers downstairs), as I am running out of patience and may one of those days go downstairs and shove this barbeque up their collective butts sideways.

  59. My landlord has recently threatened to take immediate action to rectify an alleged code violation by the use/presence of my barbeque with respect to fire code. I find it curious that he is first making this an issue over three and a half years after the code has taken effects. Furthermore, I question if the code even applies to me. The barbeque is not on a deck or balcony, but on a brick patio outside my ground floor apartment. I live in a two flat cottage house. While my landlord also owns the adjacent apartment building, my unit is one of only two units in a freestanding detached building. I was given permission to store my barbeque where it has been for over seven years now. It does not seem to be in a location banned by the code, and even if so, I feel I should be protected by the one or two family dwelling exception. I appreciate anyone’s further insight or opinion.

  60. I am also angry at not being able to barbeque on my patio. A few years ago the mgmt. Staff said it was OK to use the small. Propane cannisters but not the big ones. Now they put a notice. On my front door telling me that no propane of ant type can be used am. I to understand that no resident. In MT. VIEW. IS ALLOWED TO BARBEQUE? I will call the fire. Department on Monday to get further clarification on this ridiculous law.

  61. What happened to the Right of Privacy?????? Shalom and God Bless! Jane

  62. I’ve lived in an apt in SF for over 35 years. Have my own deck and when I first moved in, there was an existing BBQ on the deck. I have been safely bbq-ing for 35 yrs until this 4th of July when a sudden gust of wind blew my table cover onto the charcoal. Problem? No. The table cover did get singed but I have a hose less than 5 feet away and I was standing right there to immediately pull it out and stop any danger. Problem? Yes, nosy neighbors who complained to the ‘so called self-appointed’ apt manager who then began harassing me about it and now has issued a letter demanding I remove it! In fact, this ‘manager’ tried to break into my apt on that same night I was bbq-ing and put his huge foot in my door and refused to leave! He is a huge bully and has an anger problem and I was terrified of him. Contacted my atty and he was appalled at this guy’s actions and threats in his letter. We were going to have him send a letter to him and the landlord, but felt that would open a can of worms in that the landlord would ask everyone to remove their BBQ. And this guy did not want to report this situation to the LANDLORD as he does not want HIS bbq which is illegally on his FIRE ESCAPE, OF ALL PLACES, (!) to be removed by the landlord. However, this ‘manager’ keeps harassing me about it and now today has issued a letter demanding I remove it by such and such a date! It appears as if the landlord does now know about the incident as he included a cc to him (maybe to make me think the landlord is informed but really isn’t?). Now, after reading that there is an ordinance put into place in 2008 that does ban open grills on wood decks, I suppose I will eventually not be able to grill anymore. However, my question is: does this constitute a Decrease of Service, since I have been grilling for years and ever since I moved in, which set the precident as part of my quiet enjoyment of the premises!? This is so unfair! This is a staple of the American way of life! It’s one reason I rented this apt with a DECK so I COULD bbq! I called our local fire dept. and they refused to tell me what the law is and instead gave me the police #! It went around and around whereby I couldn’t even get a straight answer from the Rent Board or Tenants’ Union. On the other hand, my upstairs neighbor smokes in his apt, especially weed (!) and drops cigarette butts and lighters down into my area! But no one says anything to that guy! So, my question is: can they just get away with taking away something that has been a important part of one’s tenancy for x number of years and when there is nothing mentioned about grilling vs non-grilling in one’s Tenacy Agreement?

  63. Just buy an electric grill from Kenyon, they abide by the fire code and you get the results you want from a gas or charcoal grill, I promise. Check them out here

  64. The one point you are all missing, I did not see anyone mention it at least is, firs aside, the smoke is annoying.

    I live in Glendale, CA. I have a neighbor that is always BBQ’ing on his patio. The problem is he is below me and smoke rises. We do not have very wide balconies. Maybe 2.5 feet out from the building. All of the smoke comes up and goes right into my apartment. Why on earth, should I have to have my apartment smoked out just because you want to grill a steak? So I have to close my house up and turn on my AC so you can cook? Screw that, how about you have some common courtesy for you neighbors and not do it when you live in an apartment unless it is not inconvenient to others.

    Problem is, no one is going to take the time to be considerate, especially in California. So you get laws like this. I would LOVE to BBQ again. I miss having my house for that reason alone. But I had to give up on that and therefore I have to grill in the house.

    The guy that said it just doesn’t work for you, I would recommend getting a cast iron skillet with the grill bottom. I had all kinds of problems trying to cook steaks indoors before I got that. Now they come out moist and delicious. They still have that familiar grill mark too. It takes some adjusting and I feel for everyone that has to give up on grilling at home. But you should try thinking of your neighbor next time. Maybe the solution is to invite them down for a steak.

  65. After 24 years of charcoal grilling on my patio, my H.O.A. ruled against it. Citing insurance requirements.
    That rule will certainly affect the sale ability of our condo in the future.
    Am I allowed to grill on a city of San Diego street., next to a curb and approx. 30 feet from any dwellings.
    Yes, I can use a small propane grill, but it is not the same as charcoal.I use an electric coil starter, so there is no risk from flammable liquid starter fluid
    Any suggestions would would be greatly appreciated

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Ryan J. Smith