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Outdoor fire safety

Fire safety is not only a concern inside the home but it is also important outdoors. Learn tips that can be taken to prevent open air fires.

Open air fires

Open air fires are permitted with a burn permit

Barbeques on balconies

While there are no municipal bylaws in Ottawa regarding barbeques on balconies, the Propane Storage and Handling Code (CAN/CSA-B149.2-05) regulates the storage, handling and transfer of propane and the installation of appliances and equipment.

Propane fuelled barbeques are regulated by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA). The TSSA has provided the following requirements in regards to propane barbeques:

  • barbeques are approved for outdoor use only
  • propane cylinders must be safely stored and transported
  • propane cylinders are not to be stored inside any structure
  • always transport and store cylinders in an upright position
  • barbecuing on balconies of apartment buildings or condominium apartments may be prohibited by lease agreements or the Condominium Act (as the owner or agent for the property, building owners, property managers and Condominium Corporations have the legal authority to prohibit barbecuing on the property)
  • propane cylinders are to be transported in a service elevator or, when there are no service elevators, the person must use the passenger elevator alone to transport the cylinder
  • barbeques must be kept clear of all combustible materials as listed on the barbeque rating plate or certified instructions or must be a minimum of one metre (three feet) from combustible materials
  • propane cylinder relief valves must be at least one metre (three feet) horizontally from any building opening below it (including doors and windows); three metres (10 feet) horizontally from the air intake of any appliance or air-moving equipment; and three metres (10 feet) from any source of ignition

Ottawa Fire Services and safety experts with the TSSA recommend the following:

  • carefully inspect your barbeque to ensure that the burner is free of obstructions, rust or debris
  • replace any damaged parts with the appropriate replacement parts
  • test all gas connections for leaks with a 50/50 solution of water and dish soap
  • do not leave the barbeque unattended when in use

For persons living in apartment buildings and condominium apartments, Ottawa Fire Services recommends the use of electric barbeques bearing the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approval. Electric barbeques are a safe alternative to propane and charcoal barbeques.

Barbecuing on decks of single family and attached dwelling units follow the same restrictions provided above. Barbecuing in attached garages is prohibited because an attached garage with interior access to a home is considered part of the home and barbeques are approved for outdoor use only.

Homeowners are further advised to consider the dangers to life safety presented from carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, colourless and odourless poisonous gas often referred to as 'the silent killer'. Propane and charcoal fuelled barbeques produce carbon monoxide and, therefore, must be operated outdoors.

Additional information regarding safe barbecuing practices can be found on the TSSA website or by contacting Ottawa Fire Services at 613-580-2860.

Propane safety

Follow these safety tips to keep propane a clean, portable and safe fuel:

When transporting propane cylinders...

  • Keep valves closed and insert safety plugs, even when they are empty.
  • Always stand them upright in a well-ventilated area.
  • Always set them down gently.
  • Always secure them when transporting in vehicles. Try storing them in plastic milk crates.
  • Never leave them in a vehicle for extended periods of time.
  • Keep them away from heat or flame.

When using a propane tank...

  • Place and secure it on a firm base, away from excessive heat.
  • When connecting your cylinder, note that the cylinder-valve connection has a left-hand thread. This can only be used with appliances approved for propane.
  • After you have connected the cylinder, check for leaks. Use soapy water or a leak detector - never, never use matches or other open flames.
  • Fully open the cylinder valve so that it operates properly.
  • Always use a pressure-reducing regulator.
  • Do not let the propane cylinder get too hot-the pressure will rise.

When you are NOT using your propane cylinder...

  • Close the valve tightly, even when the tank is empty. Insert the safety plug.
  • Protect its valve-broken valves can leak.
  • Store the cylinder away from flame and heat.
  • Store your cylinder outdoors in a well-ventilated area when not in use.
  • Place it in a secure, upright position away from open flames or excessive heat.