Per Wausau City Ordinance Chapter 17.24.010(a)

Cooking with gas or charcoal on portable or permanent grills. For all multi-family dwellings of three or more separate occupancies, the use of an open or closed outdoor cooking fire, charcoal, or propane cooking device or any open-flame device is prohibited within fifteen feet of the structure or above the ground floor. Smoke from cooking grills shall not create a nuisance for neighboring property owners.

Be sure to use safe grilling practices to avoid grilling fires. Gas grills constitute a higher risk, having been involved in an annual average of 7,100 home fires in 2006-2010, while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,200 home fires.

  • Position the grill at least 15 feet away from siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area; declare a six foot "safe zone" around the grill
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers, brats, etc.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill
  • Never discard hot coals into anything except a closed, non-combustible container
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Do not allow your grill to block any exit or pathway
  • Never use either a propane or charcoal grill indoors or in any enclosed spaces, such as garages and/or indoor tents.  They pose both a fire hazard and the potential for asphyxiation by exposing occupants to toxic gases.


Facts & figuresOutdoor grilling cartoon
  • In 2006-2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,600 home and outside fires. These 8,600 fires caused an annual average of 10 civilian deaths, 140 civilian injuries and $75 million in direct property damage.
  • More than one-quarter (28%) of the home structure fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio, 28% started on an exterior balcony or open porch, and 6% started in the kitchen.
  • Flammable or combustible gas or liquid was the item first ignited in almost half of home outdoor grill fires. In almost half (46%) of the home outdoor fires in which grills were involved, 53% of the outside gas grills, and 26% of gas grill structure fires, the fire started when a flammable or combustible gas or liquid caught fire.
Source: NFPA's "Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment" (pdf) by Marty Ahrens, November 2017.