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Barbecue Safety for Patios and Balconies

Barbecue season is in full swing, but if you live in an apartment, condo or townhome, you’ll need to keep in mind some important safety regulations before you fire up the grill.

The California Fire Code restricts the types of barbecues allowed on patios and balconies.

Can I barbecue on a patio or balcony?

You may barbecue on a patio or balcony if it is constructed of non-combustible materials AND if there is an overhead fire sprinkler system installed throughout the building and protecting the balcony.

If the balcony or patio is constructed from combustible materials AND there is no overhead automatic fire sprinkler system installed throughout the entire building including outdoor sprinklers protecting the balcony, then:

  • Do NOT use charcoal or open-flames, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas or propane) burners, or natural gas barbecues. If used in an open, grade-level common area, these types of barbecues must be at least 10 feet away from combustible walls, fences and overhangs.
  • Do NOT store an LPG barbecue with a fuel size greater than 1 pound LPG capacity (e.g. camp stove size canister) on a combustible balcony or within 10 feet of combustible construction.
  • Do NOT transport LPG containers with a fuel size greater than 1 pound LPG capacity through elevators, exit and interior stairways, or common building areas. This limits most LPG barbecues to the ground floor.

Is there any type of barbecue I can use on combustible balconies and patios?

You can use electric grills on combustible balconies and patios.

What makes a balcony or patio "combustible"?

Combustible materials (able to catch fire easily):

  • Wood or wood decking
  • Vinyl siding
  • Fabric awnings

Non-combustible materials:

  • Stucco-covered walls and ceilings
  • Concrete or tiled floors

For more information

Contact Fire Prevention at 408-730-7212 or by email

July 3, 2018