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Tip: Fuels & Fires Pt.2 - Fires

One of my favorite teams on the BBQ circuit is the Pyropigmanics. As you can tell based on the name these guys were all firemen at one time. They are also an excellent team. During my years on the circuit I have encountered many a night when Pyropigtechnics (HAWG ON FIRE) could be heard over the contest. This sound sends shudders down many a bbq man's spine.

Case in hand, we were cooking in a contest in Somerville, TN about 2 years ago. We had a new guy with us and we decided we were also going to cook a whole hawg so we had borrowed a grill. At midnight the crew went to bed. Our man, his name is being withheld to protect us all, was then given the job watching the hawg for the next 5 hours. I nestled in the front seat of my truck for a quick nap and no sooner than I had taken 20 winks, there was a knock on my window. 'Hey man I think your HAWGS ON FIRE!'. 'What??', 'Yeah your HAWGS ON FIRE!'. As I raised up out of the seat I looked over at the hawg cooker and there I beheld an amazing site. Here, standing over the cooker, flames popping out underneath, was our new man holding a small styrofoam cup, you know the kind you put coffee in. Then it happened, the UNTHINKABLE. He opened the grill, thus allowing airflow to increase, and took his small cup of water; that's right WATER; and slung it into the grill. It looked like a 5-story bonfire came out of the cooker and let me tell you people were scrambling. The heat could be felt in my truck much like when you drive by a burning car. I jumped out of the truck and ran over and closed the grill. Then shutting down all air intakes and flues proceeded to smother the fire. Needless to say the hawg was done. A large part of my beard and the hair on my arms were also done. There are still stories of the bright lights on a summers night told in the city of Somerville to this date.

Well the purpose of this article is to discuss proper methods of putting out fires. We may not put much thought into it but we really should make it a concern even when cooking inside at home. Although we are going to be talking mainly about pit and grill fires this information could also help in the aid of indoor cooking fires as well. When dealing with fires or excessive heat the basics need to be known. The best cure for a fire is to know what can cause it, and what can prevent it. Generally speaking dirty grills are the culprits. Grease buildups can flame up at any time causing grill fire. Dirty grates can also cause fires. Clean your grill grates before or after each use. It is usually best to do this when the grill is hot. Make sure your drip pans are clean on a regular basis. If using indirect smokers make sure the cooking chamber is cleaned regularly to prevent grease buildup. Check your hoses on gas grill regularly for wear and tear.

Should a fire occur there are several things you can do to help prevent it from getting out of hand. First of all always keep a spray bottle full of water by your grill. Second, be within range of a garden hose whenever possible. Third, if possible buy a fire extinguisher. Remember there are several types of extinguishers and they should be checked regularly, generally once a year. Extinguishers come in types A, B, C or D. Type A are for cloth, wood, rubber and plastics. Type B is for flammable liquid fires such as oil, gas, paints, grease and solvents. Type C is used for electrical fires. Type D is for metal fires. A fire extinguisher is a good idea for the home, whether you grill or not. I am no expert on fire extinguishers, however. You should contact your local fire department for more information. Practice safe grilling.


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