Officials at Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services encourage FB residents to review their residential guides before using their grills this summer.

John Weaver, Fire Marshall, said the guide provides direction for both propane and charcoal grills such as how far away from the home a grill should be kept while in use and how much clearance should be around the grill.

“We tell (residents) 10 feet away from the building, but you want to have three foot clearance all around,” said Weaver.

The guide also indicates how to safely dispose of charcoal after grilling.

Weaver said residents will put warm charcoal into a plastic trash bag then place the bag in a plastic garbage can, or just leave it in the garage. Within a few hours there is a fire in the can, or the garage.
“If you’re using charcoal let it cool in the grill,” said Weaver. “If the charcoal is cool enough to handle, then you can put it in a metal container, never put charcoal in a plastic or paper bag The next day you can dispose of it.”

Grilling incidents usually involve the grill being too close to the house Weaver said. Residents with propane grills tend to think they can keep their grill closer to their house which can cause damage to the house siding.

“The flames, because of the grease and food, start to get bigger and they can come out and get into the siding,” said Weaver. “If you have holes in your siding flames can get inside there and a few hours later you could see the whole back of the house burning up.”

Weaver also said it’s important to properly clean a grill when finished and to watch how high the temperatures are when cooking.

“You don’t have to cook sky high all the time,” said Weaver. “Watch your temperatures you’ve got low, medium and high. We can go to medium and low, it might take a little longer to cook, but you’ll be safe afterwards.”

Making sure your smoke detector is working properly is important as well according to Weaver.

Fire and emergency services goes door to door every year and checks each smoke detector on post.
Weaver said if the detector is chirping that means the battery is low. Residences can either call emergency services and have them come replace it, or they can go to the store and buy a new battery. It’s also important to regularly clean the detector.

“Spiders like to get in there and make a condo out of it because nobody bothers them,” said Weaver. “When they make the web they’ve made a filter which makes the detector work harder, which will cause it to either work harder or not work at all.”

Fire and emergency services offers classes for residents to take which cover how to use a fire extinguisher and fire drills for Families to practice how to get out of their home in the event of a fire.

“We have a fire safety trailer that we bring out to the communities to their block parties,” said Weaver. “We have organizational days where we have a safety trailer where one side is set up for kitchen safety and the other for bedroom safety. We show residents how to get out of those situations.”

Weaver also asked that residents remember to call the base emergency phone number 703-781-1800 in the event of an emergency. If residents call 911 it increases the reaction time of FB responders by 30-45 seconds because they will be routed to the Fairfax County emergency services which will route calls to Belvoir emergency services.