Bonfires ‘n Barbeques by Ken Elmore

Holy cow! Half of July is gone already. Can you believe it? That’s OK though, still plenty of time to enjoy the pleasures of Northern Michigan. The cool nights and warm days make this the absolute best spot to be this time of year.
Whether you are vacationing, camping, or just plain living in this wonderland, there’s nothing better than a good, out of doors, grill cooked meal.

Both an art and a science, a good BBQ is the result of close attention being paid by someone at the helm of whatever design or make of grilling apparatus is being used at the time.

With that, there are several basic types out there. Charcoal, or briquette style and propane or other fuel-fired type. I’m sure this is just a review to most of you, but there are a few tips that sometimes get overlooked that need reminding of.
Like any appliance, take care of your grill through regular checking before or after each use to be sure all of the components are in good shape. Obviously, clean, repair or replace as needed.
If you own the charcoal fired type of grill, be careful not to overload the grill grate, as this can lead to excessive and dangerous heat to the grill itself and to any surrounding exposures. Deck fires or the melting of home siding, or worse, are not unheard of as a result.
If you operate your culinary expertise at a propane or other fuel-fired grill, there are a few other components to be attentive about. The burners need attention paid because over time the heat of normal operation leads to decay and disintegration of not only the burners themselves, but also the walls of the grill itself. Hey, nothing last forever.
Let’s look at what drives these grills; the fuel tank. While they are generally made extremely well to strict industry standards, there are a few things to consider. Foremost is the age and overall condition of your tank. Make sure that the valve that opens and closes on top of the tank is in good condition and without damage. Is your tank itself in good shape? Check for dents. How about rust and pitting of the tank? If it looks like it has seen its day, turn it in for a new one. Remember, many times they are exposed to the weather for long periods of time. Mine sits on my deck 365 days a year with nothing but a thin cover over the grill.
Connecting the tank to the grill itself is the hose assembly. Make sure the hose and the couplings are in good shape and check the seal to make sure there are no leaks. A bit of soapy water around them will expose a leak by the presence of bubbles being made. Again, replace or repair as necessary.
A final note on safety for either type of grill that is extremely important. Please don’t grill in any confined spaces. This means, as example, inside the garage with the doors down because of the inclement weather or such. A by-product of any fuel-fired and charcoal grill is carbon monoxide, so always grill out in the exposed air. Besides, the great smell of your steak or burgers cooking away will drive the neighbors nuts with envy!
Bonfires? Sorry about that folks, I’ll catch you on the flip-side to discuss them; right now I’m too hungry. Think I’ll grill some hot dogs.
Ken Elmore,
Markey Township Firefighter


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