Residents Cook Hot Dogs In Front Of Borough Hall To Protest Town’s Grilling Ban

If you live in Bellevue, PA, and want to do some grilling outside this summer, you’d better have a deep backyard, as a recently passed ordinance bans the use of grills within five feet of a house, porch or any other combustible material. Unhappy with the new rules, a few hundred people decided to have a wienie roast outside Bellevue Borough Hall yesterday.

“I want to promote the fact that even though people don’t agree with council’s actions we can express ourselves freely,” the mayor of Bellevue, who attempted to veto the law, tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “People are going to protest and hold them accountable.”

The Bellevue Council President tells the paper the ban is all about fire safety.

“It’s a shame that they don’t see the need for this particular ordinance,” she explains to the Post-Gazette. “We’ve had a number of near misses — one just two weeks ago that was a malfunction of the grill. Without this ordinance, if we see someone being negligent, we can’t do anything.”

The organizer of the “Grillabration” says the idea of the protest is to “have fun at the cost of council’s silly vendetta against grills.”

“This law is just a joke,” another Bellevue resident tells KDKA-TV. “We are all intelligent people. We know how to grill.”

But the Council president doesn’t like being called out in such a public shaming.

“Council has not been nasty to them and they don’t have to be nasty to council,” she said.

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  1. TinaBringMeTheAx says:

    I’m a city boy, so I don’t know, but keeping 600 degrees of glowing charcoal five feet away from anything combustible seems sensible to me.

    • dangermike says:

      When I was in college, I used to use my charcoal grill on a [gas] WOODEN DECK! And I even had the audacity to use one of the fearsome chimney starters to get it going! Mere inches away from the deck itself, with nothing more than a ceramic pot base between the blazing newspaper inferno and that agonizingly flammable deck surface. Yet, somehow, in 2 1/2 years in that apartment, I never once burnt the place down.

      • dangermike says:

        oops should have been [gasp] not [gas]. And I don’t think the grill was ever more than 12-18 inches away from the stucco’ed apartment wall or more than 2-3 feet from the wooden deck railing.

      • eldergias says:

        Lisa Simpson: “That’s specious reasoning, dad. By your logic, I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.”
        Homer Simpson: “Hmm; how does it work?”
        Lisa: “It doesn’t work; it’s just a stupid rock!”
        Homer: “Uh-huh.”
        Lisa: “… but I don’t see any tigers around, do you?”
        Homer: “Lisa, I want to buy your rock…”

      • SavageFTW says:

        My buddy and I used to do drunk grilling in college in college right next to the dorm building. The school had a few grills outside so one day at 2am we decided to get ripped and cook. Oh the glory days of college. I have never seen the RD so mad. But she couldn’t do anything.

        All in all we woke up a ton of people, ate some good food, and slept like babies.

        I miss those times.

    • alseen says:

      I live in a house. There is not one spot on my property that is 5 feet from anything combustible.

      Unless you have a two car width drive way or a concrete/paving stone deck and are willing to put your grill in the middle of it, most houses are probably similar.

    • Cerne says:

      What living in the city means you can’t BBQ? That’s news to THIS city boy. The ordnance’s definition of combustable material seems absurdly broad we’re not talking dry wood shavings.

    • buy_one_get_one says:

      coming soon, fireplaces must be 5 feet away from combustibles… Because, your know, it’s fire…

  2. ThatCatGuy says:

    5 feet is a problem? Anything that’s not an apartment should be fine.

    • catskyfire says:

      Except the deck, attached to the house, that the grill is on.

    • alseen says:

      You would be wrong in this case.

      I live in a house. There is not one spot on my property that is 5 feet from anything combustible.

      Unless you have a two car width drive way or a concrete/paving stone deck and are willing to put your grill in the middle of it, most houses are probably similar.

      • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

        The back property line is about 500 feet from my back door. I’ve got about two acres of grillable area.

    • George4478 says:

      I am 48 years old and I have never once in my life grilled more than 5 feet from a combustible surface. Ever since my little hibachi in college when I was 19, I have grilled hundreds of times on a wooden deck.

      My driveway would be possible,distance-wise, but it’s too steep. I guess I could move my grill into the street, but that seems a bit unsafe.

    • Cerne says:

      5 feet would rule out being able to grill anywhere on my property. Yet my family’s being grilling there for 3 decades without once burning anything except the food.

  3. Kabusted says:

    What’s next? You must stand 5 feet away from your sink and bathtub while operating your hair dryer?

    Why doesn’t someone spend some time and money on the schmucks that drop their phones in the toilet? But honestly, can we really save anyone from themselves?

    • ARP3 says:

      No, but we can prevent people from wasting extra fire department, ambulance, and hospital resources. So if you want to be an idiot with Freedomz, you should be prepared to pay lots of extra taxes for that privilege. Or, you can obey this law and pay the same amount of taxes.

      • dangermike says:

        Seriously, can we vote this guy out of America?

      • El_Fez says:

        Or, on the other hand, you could be a responsible adult when playing with fire. A crazy notion, I know.

      • Cerne says:

        I assume you have statistics showing that the average citizen of Bellevue is incapable of handling a grill? And yet they let those same people vote!

      • Rhinoguy says:

        This affects taxes in what way? Last time I checked if you use the services of the fire department you will get a HUGE bill in the mail. It will go to your burned down house, you won’t see it, it will be turned over to collections and all the big businesses in town get a piece of your life savings! Unless you’re insured, in which case our fair city sends the bill to them directly.
        Your taxes cover the cost of keeping the firehouse open and functional. NOT the cost of putting out fires. That’s YOUR problem.
        You don’t know anyone who has had a real world fire, do you?

  4. LoadStar says:

    I think here the rule is 10 feet, but I believe the rule only applies to multi-unit buildings (i.e. apartments, townhomes, etc.) Still, really – all this because of 5 feet? It’s not like they told you you can’t have them, you just need to move them away from the building a little bit.

    • SubDude says:

      I agree with you completely, LoadStar. There are too many morons walking around not knowing how to deal with lighter fluid, propane tanks, burning embers, etc., just moments away from burning down entire apartment buildings. I have known a lot of guys in my days who just loved to do their grilling drunk and at all hours of the day or night.

    • dangermike says:

      Enter text…

    • George4478 says:

      And build a concrete stand to get those coals 5 feet away from that wooden deck. Trivial.

    • CheetoDust says:

      We’ll take their rights away just a tiny bit at a time…then they won’t notice.

  5. Chmeeee says:

    I would fully support a law like this for charcoal grilling, because hot coals have a tendency to spill when you’re moving things around if you’re not careful. Gas grill? Please. You really have a screw something up to set a deck on fire with a gas grill.

  6. Bill19014 says:

    “‘Council has not been nasty to them and they don’t have to be nasty to council,’ she said.”

    This is an example of the obliviousness of politicians who pass laws like this one. What they have done is declared that no one may engage in the victimless act of grilling within five feet of their own home. If someone chooses to ignore that declaration, then the council has authorized armed people to come to that person’s home, stop them from doing so, and fine them. If the fine is not paid, those same armed people will come and eventually matters can theoretically escalate to the point where the rogue griller is imprisoned or killed.

    Nothing nasty about that…certainly not as nasty as having a protest cookout for a redress of grievances!

    • SubDude says:

      Why would you want to grill less than five feet from your house and get all that smoke and grease and crap all over the door, wall and windows?

      • alseen says:

        It’s not the 5 feet from the house that is probably the problem. It’s the 5 feet from anything combustible. This typically includes grass.

        I would be unable to grill at my house if this kind of silly ordinance was in place without making a 12 foot by 15 foot concrete/paving stone deck.

      • chefboyardee says:

        Have you ever grilled before?

        My grills are less than a foot away from my siding, and has been for over 10 years. One is propane and one is charcoal, and I use a chimney starter.

        If I were to roll both grills away from the house and ask a stranger where the grills normally live, they would not be able to guess. There isn’t a mark at all, neither on the siding nor the deck.

        And there has never been a near burning-down, because I’m not an idiot.

      • Bill19014 says:

        Me? I don’t. I just don’t think it’s the government’s business if someone else does. But I’m not really talking about the merits of this specific law as much as the fact that the people who write laws are pretty oblivious to the fact that laws are not friendly advice, or suggestions, but rather authorizations to use force against people who violate them. When you’re outlawing murder or robbery, that’s pretty reasonable. When you’re outlawing large sodas or setting limits to barbecuing locations…not so much.

  7. bhr says:

    For those saying “It’s not a big deal” keep in mind the other part of this law. It’s not just the house but the porch, fence, trees, outbuildings, ect. that would fall under this .

    So, no more grilling on the deck or patio. No grilling anywhere in a landscaped yard. No grilling in small yard at all, unless you have a 10 ft clear circle around you.

    People have been grilling for as long as we’ve had suburbs and I can’t recall one story of a major fire started by a grill. If your fence catches fire you pay to fix it. Just because an accident can potentially happen doesnt mean you should legislate the behavior away completely.

    • alseen says:

      Not just 10 foot. Many grills are quite large. Mine is at least 3 feet across and a good 18 inches deep.

    • who? says:

      When I was a kid, the next door neighbors set their porch roof on fire with a hibachi. If I didn’t notice it and get my mom to call the fire department, it would have spread to the rest of the house. They didn’t notice they had a problem until the firemen were standing on their porch spraying water on the thing. Does that count?

      The law may be overly broad, but people are idiots.

  8. dpeters11 says:

    Here it’s illegal to have a grill on an apartment balcony. That I can understand. My grill is on my deck, and there it will stay. It does make sense to not have it too close to the house. Even with propane, the lid can get very hot and cause problems with paint, siding etc. But this goes too far.

    • SubDude says:

      A neighbors house in Indianapolis took some major damage from a propane grill overheating. Granted this was before the heat shields were mandatory, but I would bet not everyone thinks these things are necessary when they do the assembly.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Boulder county in Colorado has a similar ban – no grills within several feet of a building – might even be further distance. 5 ft really only blocks apartments and very very tiny backyards (sadly, mine included).

    But I still disagree with the law – it’s pretty stupid. Grill fires are probably caused mostly from people that would have found some other way to hurt themselves or others without the grill.

    • alseen says:

      My yard is quite large. There is not one spot on my property I could grill.

      Combustibles normally include grass. I couldn’t even grill in my driveway as it’s only a 1 car width driveway.

      • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

        My grass isn’t combustible. Had a fire on July 4th and the grass didn’t burn. Plus, all my trees are alive. Good luck burning them down with a grill.

    • Golfer Bob says:

      Bellevue is an inner city neighborhood with a lot of multi family housing, so a five foot zone would cause many people problems with typical postage stamp size yards in the area.

  10. marciepooh says:

    If you read the Post-Gazeete article, they also require “residents to obtain one-time open burning permits.” My husband and I would need 2 a week until December. (He really likes to grill.)

  11. Shadowfire says:

    “Council has not been nasty to them and they don’t have to be nasty to council,”

    I really pity the Council president – her life is so rough. I mean, I can’t imagine how terrible my life would be if everyone didn’t agree with me.

  12. Sarek says:

    I have had my gas grill shoot flames near the gas tank a few times. Quite scary. But I never — ever — put it on my deck. This is why I pull it into the backyard at least 6 feet away from the house, and at least that far from the deck. (I do set it next to the house when not in use.)

  13. history_theatrestudent says:

    I smell a petition drive to overturn the ordinance cooking in the near future.

  14. dcatz says:

    Where I live, the Fire Gestapo will fine you for simply STORING a grill near a building. It does not have to be on or in use nor does covering it avoid the fine. You have to store your grill 15 feet away from the building. They are not interested in safety; like traffic enforcement it is little more than a revenue generation activity.

  15. RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

    It seems to me that the FDA needs more power to actually do something about production standards. You may argue that more regulations to follow slow things down, but since the end result of fewer regulations is that the final quality becomes so bad that at some point the manufacturer has to stop selling its product, prevention seems like the better option.

    And yet, we have a strong trend toward deregulation.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Wrong story, you ain’t seen nuthin’…

    • Cerne says:

      Man the FDA really should get involved in the grill business!

      =)

      But seriously you’re wrong. These shortages are often caused by regulations that do little to improve safety and causes lots of delays. Things like testing established drugs and then grant exclusive rights to who ever performs the tests.

  16. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    What’s the difference between using a gas stove, indoors in your kitchen (it has open flames and is near combustible stuff), or using a gas grill outside on your deck, porch, or whatever? At least with the gas grill outside, the flames are contained in a large metal box, with a metal covering over the flames, then a grill, and then a metal hood that closes over the whole contraption.

    So – what’s next, a gas stove has to be located x feet from anything combustible in the kitchen?

    And how many fires have been caused in Bellevue by outside grills? Is it really that big of a problem, or is it just nanny government again?

    • kathygnome says:

      There are building regulations about where you can put a stove in the kitchen, it’s just that almost nobody notices them because when they take occupancy, the house is already build that way.

  17. Cerne says:

    Good for the citizens Bellevue. Too many people just shrug and accept moronic, unnecessary and intrusive laws like these. The council is obviously major believers in the nanny state, hopefully no one who voted for this law gets reelected in the next election.

  18. Libertas1 says:

    One hopes that people will remember this stupidity come election time, but I know better. There’s American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and sports to be concerned about.

  19. Lennie Patrick says:

    I have been using a Weber charcoal grill on my wooden back porch in Chicago for 40 years. It’s only inches from the wood railing once the flames have gone out after using the lighter fluid. Never once had a problem!

  20. Rhinoguy says:

    I live in a brick house and I have a quarter of an acre lot. There is nowhere on this property that is five feet from something combustible. I have five cars in my driveway and they all burn, as does ALL of the vegetation in the yards. And there is no part of my house that is five feet from a wooden window frame. I have the ancient poured slab patio in the back but it’s eight feet wide meaning it’s less than five feet from house windows or the grass. It’s a ban on grills, period.

  21. triana says:

    This is really unfair to apartment dwellers and those who live in close quarters, like townhouses. I have a small back yard in my townhouse complex, and I could put a grill out in the middle of it and be five feet away from the house and the fence. However, I ‘d be off the level cement patio and be on the uneven, combustible grass.

  22. dush says:

    So just don’t rehire the council next time.

  23. Conformist138 says:

    I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but your stove/oven can get that hot and it’s INSIDE THE HOUSE!

  24. videoman says:

    This kind of law just makes me shake my head. If using an outdoor grill presents a significant risk for a house fire, then why are indoor grills (stoves) allowed to be used?

    • videoman says:

      Damn, I should have read all the way through the comments and then my redundancy could have been prevented.

  25. Difdi says:

    The real question was, were they within five feet of the building?

  26. spartan says:

    Anyone care to take a guess where I cut and pasted this paragraph from?

    “”Grills should be placed away from houses, fences, trees and anything else that has propensity for burning. The location should be well ventilated, preferably outdoors. “”

    Here is the link. It looks like the people on this website would agree with the city/

    http://tinyurl.com/8855hj3

    • Cerne says:

      And where do you see Webber mandating that grills be 5 feet from anything? Where do you see Webber sending armed men to your house to force you to comply with their suggestions?

  27. soj4life says:

    Hey look, Idiocracy in action. If the council had to have passed this law, there are those not intelligent enough to know how to grill properly. It is also why we have warnings on window cleaner that states it is harmful to ingest, people are dumb. Suck it up and grow up.

    • Cerne says:

      So in your fantasy land every law passed has a rational basis? In this new Narnia politicians are somehow smarter than the people who elect them? And protesting against injustice is now childish?

  28. Mr. Bill says:

    Try goggling apartment grill fire.

  29. DarkPsion says:

    You know technically, Hair is combustible, so even if you find a safe place to grill, you will have to do it while standing five feet from your BBQ.

  30. Galium says:

    We have a law in our city that says a person cannot smoke in a city park. But on the beach park, and a few others, the city has in place grills that spew smoke and grease on everything near them. So I would assume this Bellevue PA grilling law fits right in with our idiocy. PS I do not smoke, so do not go there. I just think our smoking law is nothing but discrimination against a class of citizens.

  31. baristabrawl says:

    It’s 5 feet. Seriously. Our grill is on pavers in the yard, always has been. I don’t even want it closer than that. It just seems common sense to me.