September 1, 2015 | Porges, Hamlin, Knowles & Hawk, P.A.
Persons in multi-unit dwellings should read on before striking up that barbeque grill! Florida has adopted in part the National Fire Prevention Association Uniform Fire Code (NFPA). Florida’s equivalent fire code states at section 10.11.6.1:
For other than one- and two-family dwellings, no habachi, grill, or other similar devises used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose shall be used or kindled on any balcony, under any overhanging portion, or within 10 ft (3 m) of any structure.
Section 10.11.6.2 states:
For other than one- and two-family dwellings, no habachi, grill or other similar devises used for cooking shall be stored on a balcony.
That means that if you live in a building consisting of three or more attached dwelling units, even single-story buildings, you may not grill on your patio, balcony, lanai or whatever you might call that portion of your unit that is under an overhang. Also, you cannot even store your grill on a “balcony,” which term is undefined (so does this mean you can store your grill on a first floor patio? Probably.)
If this applies to you, you cannot light your grill, habachi, fire pit or other similar device unless you move it to the ground floor 10 feet or more away from the building. And if you have a balcony, you cannot even store your grill device on the balcony.
Is any grilling grandfathered in? Section 10.11.6.3 allows for permanently and previously installed grill equipment to be allowed (grandfathered). This would pertain only to built-in grills. Temporary equipment that is attempted to be permanently installed is not permitted, so no, you cannot attempt to attach your Weber grill to your balcony and claim it is permanent. Any permanently installed grills that were built into the unit prior to 2014 can remain and can be used. Future installation of permanent grills in these such 3-or-more-unit multi-story buildings is not permitted.
The national fire code contained an exemption for electric grills, but Florida did NOT adopt that exemption. So even electric grill use is prohibited the same way other grill use is prohibited as explained above.
Condo and multi-dwelling-unit building Associations should read their own Declarations and Rules and Regulations carefully, and see if you need to amend any of your governing documents to come into compliance with this fire regulation.
You might also check to see if your documents contain a “use restriction” that tells the members they may not violate any laws or ordinances. Some such provisions specifically state that the owner/member will be liable for damage to all Association property caused by the owner’s violation of any law. If so, depending on the wording of such section, it may be prudent to remind your members by letter or newsletter of the new fire code for grilling, and that violation of the fire code is a violation of the law, and thus a violation of the Association governing documents. This may go a long way in apportioning liability to the owner if someone should ignore the new grilling ordinance and burn down the building.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
Mary R. Hawk is a partner and shareholder in the law firm of Porges, Hamlin, Knowles & Hawk, PA. She is a frequent speaker with CAI and is past president of the West Florida Chapter.