If you have a grill on your deck, it could cost you. Poudre Fire Authority reminds residents of apartment or condo complexes that using barbecue grills or smokers on balconies is prohibited unless protected by a fire-sprinkler. It is not only illegal but can potentially harm those around you. A fire that starts in one apartment unit can quickly spread throughout the main building, putting lives and properties at risk.

Assistant Fire Marshal Michal Jaques reminds us that on January 10, the occupants of the multi-family building at 1112 Davidson Drive awoke to flames on a second-floor balcony. They were able to evacuate with minimal injury and notify others in the building. The fire cause approximately $550,000 in damage. The fire’s cause? Improperly stored ashes from a barbecue grill.

Here are the rules:

Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices – barbecue grills, wood or pellet grills, or wood or pellet smokers -- shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction.

There is potential for hot embers to fall from the firebox 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 or cooking flare-ups will come in contact with combustible wall construction that is easily ignited.

Are there any exceptions?

Barbecues and other open-flame devices are permitted to be used at single-family detached dwellings, as well as at buildings, balconies and decks protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

People are also allowed to use liquid petroleum-gas cooking devices that have a liquid petroleum container with a water capacity less than 2.5 pounds. An example is a small, tabletop grills or cooking devices fueled by a two-pound propane cylinder, or electric appliances using an infrared or electric element.