Barbecue Safety Guidelines

This applies to Barbecues and other Outdoor cooking on campus. Many types of outdoor fires (not for cooking) are prohibited by the Cambridge Fire Dept. and Boston Fire Dept.


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UPDATED Charcoal BBQ process  We have streamlined the approval process. It will be easier to use 4 of the CAC spaces for charcoal barbecues.


#Approved safe locations for portable grills and locations that can't be used


 


Safety Precautions For All Barbecues


Barbecue organizers are responsible for implementing these guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety.


Designate a Fire Watch


  • The event sponsor or the caterer should designate someone to be the “fire watch” at all times. Designate more than one person and rotate them, if necessary. 
  • The fire watch should confirm that they have reviewed this webpage as their training. The fire watch is responsible for checking that these guidelines are followed during the entire time that the cooking equipment is being used. The fire watch must correct anything that is not safe immediately or direct someone else to do this. 
  • The cooking equipment must be constantly attended when in use by the fire watch and/or the cook.  
  • The fire watch should not leave until the coals have been drenched with water or the valve on the propane tank has been turned off. 
  • The fire watch should be prepared to use the garden hose at any time.
  • Keep a garden hose nearby that is connected to a water supply and that has an adjustable nozzle. A 5-gallon bucket of water is an alternative if a hose connection is not nearby.
  • EHS discourages MIT personnel, who are Fire Watches, from using fire extinguishers. 
  • If you hire a fire fighter detail for propane cooking, then the MIT event sponsor will need obtain at least one 40BC fire extinguisher from MIT R&M Fire Protection.  Use Atlas to submit an SAP requisition https://atlas.mit.edu On the left navigation, select "Full Catalog", then in the "Buying" section select "Internal (MIT Services)".

What can and can not be used


  • Use charcoal only. No wood or other materials can be burned due to the fire and environmental regulations. 
  • Use a grill to cook food and to comply with the Mass. Fire regulations. The Cambridge Fire Dept. prohibits the use of chiminea and the other open fire pits.

Prevent burns and Lighting the Grill


  • Never lean directly over a grill while lighting it.
  • Use a lighter with a long barrel.  Since even a small child can figure out how to use child resistant lighters, keep all lighters out of reach of children.
  • Do not leave a lighter where the weather can damage the plastic and cause fuel leaks.
  • Wear tight-fitting sleeves or short sleeve shirts, tuck in clothing. 
  • Wear an insulated flame-retardant mitt when lighting the grill, lifting lids or adjusting vents. 
  • Use long-handled barbecue tongs and utensils designed for safe handling of food and coals.
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance

Approved, safe locations for portable grills and cooking equipment  


  • At least 25 feet away from any MIT building, tent, combustible materials, or air intake
  • Not under any type of overhang such as:  tent, canopy, umbrella, trees with overhanging branches, breezeway, etc.
  • Avoid a windy spot because sparks can ignite nearby paper products, dry grass, leaves, pine needles, shrubs, etc.
  • Wind blockers must be made of non-combustible material. 
  • On a flat, level, non-combustible surface so the grill won’t tip over
  • McDermott Court
  • near Walker Memorial
  • Stata amphitheater
  • Kresge turnaround and specific spots near Kresge Oval

Locations that can't be used


  • Killian Court can no longer be reserved by DLCs to have barbecues and similar events
  • Sloan School prohibits the use of charcoal and propane in all of their outdoor event spaces.
  • The President's Garden can't be used because it is surrounded by Bldgs. 10, 11, and 13 and their air intakes.
  • Any area at MIT that is near an air intake, which could draw smoke into a building and set off the fire alarm. Also the lighter fluid fumes (VOCs) and carbon monoxide will be pulled into a building air intake and cause adverse reactions.
  • The Mass. Board of Fire Prevention regulations as well as the Cambridge Fire Dept. and Boston Fire Dept. prohibit the use of barbecue grills in the following locations:  Inside a building, on a roof, fire escape or fire escape, balconies, windowsill, porches, or decks that are enclosed with a roof/ceiling/other confining material, in garages or similar area, or other portions of a building.

 


Keep your grill clean


  • Remove grease or fat buildup from the grills and in drip trays.
  • Prevent burns from grease spills that flare up

Lighting charcoal


  • Use charcoal starter cones, cubes, large matches and other alternative lighting methods that are described at http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/using-chimney-starter.html  These are better for the environment than lighter fluid.
  • If you use charcoal lighter fluid, do not add more after the charcoal has been ignited. The fire could flash back and burn you. Self-starting charcoal is another option.
  • Do not use lighter fluid if the fumes could be pulled into a building air intake because this often causes adverse reactions.

When you finish cooking


  • Drench the coals with water and leave the coals in the grill until the next day or at least several hours.
  • Dispose of the coals in the metal trash can, which Grounds Services can provide.

Store excess supplies safely


  • Put lighter fluid in a flammable storage cabinet
  • Put unused charcoal briquettes in an airtight container (metal is best) and keep away from any heat source

A Cambridge Fire Dept. fire fighter detail may be needed


A Cambridge Fire Dept. fire fighter detail is required if: 


  • A propane tank with a capacity of 42 pounds (10 gallons) or more, or for use of 2 or more pieces of cooking equipment, regardless of propane tank capacity.
  • Your caterer will be frying with oil or other higher risk cooking
  • If your rain plan is to have your caterer cook under a tent

The Fire Department may check if the safety precautions are being taken and if a signed MIT Barbecue Application is on site during the barbecue. If either is not, they may stop the cooking.


Permits


The Fire Dept. decides when a misc. permit is needed for larger propane tanks. 


 


Locations of permanent barbecue grills (do not complete attached barbecue application):


 


  • Near Kresge Auditorium (contact Campus Activities Complex to schedule)
  • At most of the dormitories (contact the House Manager to schedule)

If you are interested in using different cooking equipment near the permanent barbecue grills, or another location, please follow the process described below.


 


Process for Charcoal Barbecues--UPDATED AUGUST 2018:


 


If you are planning a Charcoal BBQ in these CAC spaces, please follow the steps below:


  • Kresge BBQ pits, lawn and turnaround
  • McDermott Court (Dot) and near Walker Memorial
  • Stata amphitheater
  • Note: Above locations are indicated on the attachment (Charcoal outdoor cooking locations)
  1. Reserve a location on the EMS CAC Virtual Scheduling System. If you do not have a scheduling account, please contact CAC at 617-253-3913 or campus-activities@mit.edu.

  2. Once you submit your application you will receive an email confirming that the space is tentatively reserved. You will also be notified if your event needs to be registered in the Atlas event planning system (event registration info).

  3. A CAC manager will then contact you directly to discuss your event.

  4. If you require outside cleanup assistance for your event, trash and/or recycle barrels or hose hook up, please submit an SAP requisition https://atlas.mit.edu. On the left of the navigation screen, select "Service Requests", then in section select “Create Request” then select “Event Setup”. You can request a quote through Atlas for hourly costs or call FIXIT (3-4948) and reference your requisition number. Please note that Kresge BBQ Pits are the ONLY locations with metal trash can to dispose of coals. If your location needs a metal trash can to dispose of the coals, please add this to your request. Coals must be soaked in water.  
  5. Review and follow the safety precautions. If you have questions, contact the EHS Safety Program safety@mit.edu.

If you are planning a Charcoal BBQ in a Housing BBQ pit please follow the steps below:


 


  1. Reserve the space with the House Manager (only residents of the dorm can reserve the space).
  2. If you require outside cleanup assistance for your event, trash and/or recycle barrels or hose hook up, please submit an SAP requisition https://atlas.mit.edu/atlas/Main.action?tab=home#.  On the left of the navigation screen, select "Service Requests", then in section select “Create Request” then select “Event Setup”. You can request a quote through Atlas for hourly costs or call FIXIT (3-4948) and reference your requisition number. Coals must be soaked in water before disposal.
  3. Review and follow the safety precautions. If you have questions, contact the EHS Safety Program safety@mit.edu.

If your caterer will use Propane cooking equipment, use the attached form. We combined the charcoal and propane forms.

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