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Barbecues (BBQ) on apartment / condominium balconies.

The Burlington Fire Department has concerns with propane, charcoal and electric BBQ’s on confined spaces such as balconies, they cause both smoke and potential fire hazards for a building. It is suggested to review lease agreements or condominium rules to ensure the topic is properly addressed to residents.

The Ontario Fire Code, Reg. 213/07, as amended, does not specifically prohibit the above‑noted type of cooking on a balcony. However, in the event of fire damage resulting from a propane‑fired barbecue, the owner may face some liability for resultant damage under the provisions of Division B, Article 2.1.2.2. of the Ontario Fire Code, which states, "Activities that create a hazard and that are not allowed for in the original design shall not be carried out in a building unless approved provisions are made to control the hazard”.

The word "approved" means approved by the Chief Fire Official. Please be advised that the Burlington Fire Department does not give approval for balcony propane barbecuing due to the potential for leakage of propane gas and extensive fire spread from any leakage.

The number one cause of these fires is leakage of propane at the cylinder valve connection. The escaping propane gas may be readily ignited by the operating burner units within the barbecue. Failure to properly service and maintain these cooking appliances or to conduct soap testing following recharging and reconnection of these cylinders can result in a potentially serious fire that could quickly involve any combustible material located on the balcony. The resulting fire can also expose the building structure to rapid extension of the fire through openings such as windows and doors.

Discussions with numerous property managers, owners, and condominium directors have indicated that there are formal leasing agreements and rules & regulations for many apartment/condominium buildings that prohibit the placement and use of BBQs on balconies. It has become evident on complaint follow-up that these regulations are not routinely enforced at many of the properties.

The Propane Storage and Handling Code CSA-B149.2-00 outlines specific requirements applicable to the use and storage of propane cylinders. The following items are highlights from that code and it is apparent that it would be most difficult to meet the distances indicated on the average balcony.

(a) Cylinders are to be stored outside a minimum of 3 ft. (1m) from any building opening and 10ft. (3m) away from any mechanical air intake.

(b) Cylinders are not to be transported inside apartment/condominium buildings up to a balcony.

Cylinders are to be stored a minimum of 10 ft. (3m) on a horizontal plane from any source of ignition.

The Fuel Safety Branch of the T.S.S.A. (Technical Standards and Safety Authority) is the regulatory authority having jurisdiction on this matter and in this regard you may wish to contact them directly at 1-877-682-8772.

Concerns or complaints regarding the use of these cooking appliances on balconies of buildings will be forwarded to the Technical Standards & Safety Authority  T.S.S.A. for investigation and enforcement, as required. Also be advised that any associated recovery costs from T.S.S.A. will be the responsibility of the building owner.

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