Building Owners

Barbecue York City

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You may want to check the Fire Code before you put those burgers on the grill. The New York City Fire Code allows barbecuing in very few areas.

Section 307.5.3 of the New York City Fire Code dictates where a grill can and cannot be used. It states that “portable outdoor barbecues shall not be stored or used within 10 feet of any combustible waste, combustible material, or any combustible building surface, including combustible roofs and decks.” The 10-foot rule by de facto eliminates the possibility of grilling inside of a dwelling.

The 10-foot rule does allow for legal barbecuing on terraces and balconies. To be legal, the barbecue must have a 10-foot clearance from the building. Only larger sized balconies and terraces have a 10-foot clearance. However, lawful roof terraces should not have a problem with the 10-foot rule.

The 10-foot rule eliminates the possibility of grilling on a fire escape. New York’s Multiple Dwelling Law also states “any fire escape shall not be obstructed by sinks or kitchen fixtures or in any other way. Iron bars, grilles, gates, or other obstructing devices on any window giving access to fire escapes or to a required secondary means of egress shall be unlawful .”

Unless you have a one or two-family house in New York, forget about having a propane grill. Propane is highly dangerous. According to the FDNY, if gasoline vapors ignite, one gallon can explode with the force of 14 sticks of dynamite. Fire Code Section 307.5.6 limits the size of propane tanks to 16.4 ounces or less, and storage to a quantity of a maximum of 4. The storage of a maximum of two 20-pound tanks is permitted in one or two-family homes.

Natural gas grills are an increasingly popular amenity in new developments. They are permitted if they abide by the Fire Code and by the DOB’s recently released Bulletin 2015-016.

Careful measures for natural gas grill installation are understandable in light of recent natural gas explosions. Only a licensed master plumber can install an outdoor natural gas grill. Installation must undergo special inspections. The FDNY requires a valid permit to operate outdoor natural gas grills. Bulletin 2015-016 also requires that two layers of tempered glass surround natural gas grills. Overriding the 10-foot rule, Bulletin 2015-016 requires outdoor natural gas grills to remain at a distance of only 5 feet from any combustible materials, building or structure.

Electric barbecues are generally legal to install and use, though barbecue purists may cry foul.

You may be asking yourself “where can I grill?” On the sidewalk? Think again. Grilling on the sidewalk is not permitted by the Fire Code and is a sidewalk obstruction. There’s always the park! The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation allows grilling in designated areas. Arrive early to secure a pit on summer weekends or bring your own grill. If you have more than 20 people, you will want to apply for a Special Event Permit.

Happy grilling!

Are you a building owner or developer that needs code consultation or expediting? Contact Outsource Consultants here.

One Response to “Barbecue York City”
  1. Dennis Mele, RA

    This an excellent article but in looking at the Fire Code it does not mention any requirements for a “fixed” barbecue but rather it only refers to “portable” ones. A fixed barbecue would be hard piped with a natural gas feed from inside the apartment and it would be installed in a permanent cabinet located on the terrace and often without any consideration of the 10-foot clearance requirement. It is not something that would be on wheels. Also the DOB bulletin mentions “decorative appliances” with the emphasis being on the aesthetics of the open flame. This bulletin seems to be written specifically for fire pits. Therefore it appears that neither document addresses what to do about a fixed hard piped barbecue located on a private terrace.

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