Dear Valued Owners and Property Managers,
The 2012 Edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) addresses the usage of open flame cooking devices, and other open flame devices, on or near combustible decks, structures, and buildings.
IFC code section 308.1.4 "Open-Flame Cooking Devices," states; "Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet
(3048 mm) of combustible construction." Combustible construction means the structure's patio fences and deck railings, as well as combustible decks above patios.
Open flame cooking devices at no time shall be used on below grade patios or similar locations where Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LP) heavier than air gas might accumulate.
In the City of Bozeman (LP) Gas-Fueled Cooking Devices have been allowed to be used on decks and patios of multi-family occupancies protected by an automatic sprinkler system. Cooking Devices shall not use an (LP) gas container larger than 2-1/2 pounds [nominal] 1 pound capacity.
The Bozeman Fire Department advises you to notify your residents no (LP) cylinders are allowed to be stored in building interiors, basements, or unit storage areas. Additionally, complex maintenance personnel should periodically inspect common storage areas regularly for propane tanks, flammable liquid containers, and combustible or hazardous substances.
Reference IFC 2012 edition: International Fire Code (IFC) 308.1.4 Open-flame cooking devices, 313 Fueled equipment, 313.1.1 Removal, 6220.127.116.11 Use in basement, pit, or similar location.
Please review the above requirements and contact me if you have questions. We look forward to working with you in maintaining safe living conditions.
The answer to this question could consist of several explanations:
- The balcony could be constructed of non-combustible materials such as concrete or steel and placed away from combustible construction or the construction itself is considered noncombustible.
- The balcony could be protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system.
- The grill is utilizing a smaller 2.5-pound propane bottle. There are conversion kits to use the small bottles on larger grills.
- You may be looking at a townhome or single-family dwelling where they are allowed.
- Storage of the grill itself without the propane bottle is allowed.
- The grill is being utilized illegally. Bozeman Fire has a limited staff and cannot patrol every multi-family complex within the city.
Examples of combustible construction are as follows but not limited to what is listed below. It should be noted the required 10-foot separation from combustible construction applies to each side as well as what is above the grill.
Balconies made of wood or wood composite materials are considered combustible construction.
Wood composite material that has aflame rating which is attached to wood joists is considered combustible construction.
Siding that is made of wood or wood composite materials are considered combustible construction.
Cementitious siding, such as stucco is not considered combustible however, other siding (non-cementitious) that mimics stucco such as a product as (EFIS) would be considered combustible construction.
2012 International Fire Code Commentary
The general requirements are making sure the three elements necessary for a fire to occur - Ignition Source, Fuel and Oxygen do not encounter one another. The requirements and precautions outlined in this chapter, when applied using good judgement and common sense, will help to foster safety for everyone residing within the building.
General Requirements, Section 308 - Open Flames establishes the requirements being applicable to both indoor and outdoor situations involving open flames. The intention is to maintain separation between ignitable combustible materials and ignition sources involving an open flame.
General Requirements, Section 308 - Open Flames, Paragraph 308.1.4 - Open Flame Cooking Devices states that charcoal grills and other open flame cooking devices are not allowed on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction. (Combustible balconies and combustible construction means balconies and siding made from wood or wood products).
- One and two-family dwellings
- Where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic fire sprinkler system.
- LP-gas cooking devices having LP-gas container water capacity not greater than 2.5 pounds (nominal 1-pound LP-gas capacity)
- Exception 1 - Exempts one and two-family dwellings from the requirements of this section and would allow the use of propane gas grills of any size on balconies of such buildings. In those occupancies, the level of familiarity and control exercised by the building occupants is recognized as offsetting the hazards of using open-flame cooking devices. There are practical difficulties involved enforcing such regulations in one and two-family dwellings as well.
- Exception 2 - Recognizes the added protection provided by an automatic fire sprinkler system.
- Exception 3 - Allows for small propane gas burning devices such as the small tabletop grills or units that might be used in cooking within residential occupancies.
Explanation of Section 308.1.4
This section contains a strict prohibition on the use of charcoal-burning grills and other open flame cooking devices in the locations described and focuses on the potential for hot embers to fall from the fire box of the cooking device and ignite a combustible surface, such as a wooden balcony or deck. The 10-foot separation also reduces the likelihood that fire-starting cooking flare-ups will encounter combustible wall construction that is easily ignited.
Since this section only regulates the operation of the cooking devices, it is often asked if the devices can be stored in the locations described. In the case of propane fired grills using larger than those described in Exception 3, the answer is no. The fire code is regulating the amount or quantity of volatile fuel on the combustible balcony or deck. In the case of locating non-propane gas-fired cooking devices, the location would have to be approved by the fire code official.
- Exception 1. Exempts one and two-family dwellings from the requirements of this section and would allow the use of propane gas grills of any size on balconies of such buildings. In those occupancies, the level of familiarity and control exercised by the building occupants is recognized as offsetting the hazards of using open-flame cooking devices. There are practical difficulties involved enforcing such regulations in one and two-family dwellings as well.
- Exception 2. Recognizes the added protection provided by an automatic fire sprinkler system.
- Exception 3. Allows for small propane gas burning devices such as the small tabletop grills or units used in cooking within residential occupancies.