Grilling on Somerset Balconies


Grilling is a big deal in our family!

In fact, before we signed the purchase contract for our unit, we verified that grilling was legal on the balconies.  If it hadn't been allowed, we would not have purchased a unit at Somerset!

Somerset's Rules and Regulations allow only electric grills to be stored or used on our balconies.

So, when we read the letter from Indian Harbour Beach Fire Marshall, Jim McKillop, that seemed to say that keeping or using any grill (even, now, electric ones) on our balconies is now illegal, we were very upset.

It is true that the latest Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC) 5th edition no longer exempts electric grills from the list of grill types that are prohibited to be stored/used on balconies of multi-dwelling homes like Somerset (Sections 10.11.6.1 and 10.11.6.2).

But the very next section (for some unknown reason not included in our Fire Marshall's notice) gives an exemption to properly installed, permanent grills:

10.11.6.3* Listed equipment permanently installed in accordance with its listing, applicable codes, and manufacturer's instructions shall be permitted.


Like many others here at Somerset, we already own an electric grill that plugs into the wall outlet on our patio.  It turns out that our grill is UL-listed, and is designed to be “direct connected” if desired (no plug to plug/unplug — i.e. “permanently installed”).  So I visited Fire Marshall McKillop, and asked for guidance in getting our grill installed, getting it inspected, and getting documentation we could use to prove to our Association that our grill IS legal.

Mr. McKillop looked up our grill model to verify it was UL-listed and verified that it was designed to be direct-connected.  He then said that if we use the formal process of getting a building permit to direct-connect the grill, and then use a licensed electrician to do the work, that he would inspect the installation and provide documentation saying our grill is legal to use at Somerset.

So, that's what we did.
The process cost us $64 for the building permit, and $120 for the electrical work (which required cutting off the electric plug from the grill's origial power cord).

So, how can others go about legally grilling here at Somerset?

  1. Find an electric grill that's designed to be “direct connected” - either sold without a plug, or designed to have the plug cut off, and wired directly (“permanently”) to an electric box (preferably with a dedicated on/off switch.)
    In my case, I wrote the grill's manufacturer asking if it was designed to be direct-connected, and they told me “yes” (and they must have said the same thing to Mr. McKillop.)

  2. Select a licensed electrician.  Tell them you need your grill directly connected.  Have them check the electric service to your balcony, and verify they can adapt it to support direct-connecting the grill you're considering.

  3. If the electrician is confident they can do the work, buy the grill.

  4. Go to the receptionist on the 2nd floor of the Indian Harbour Beach City Hall (2055 S Patrick Dr. Indian Harbour Beach, FL, 321-773-3181) and apply for a building permit.

  5. Once the permit is “approved”, have your electrician install the grill.

  6. Call the number on the building permit (321-777-3181) and tell them “construction” is complete.  They will schedule an inspection.

  7. After the inspection, they will sign the Building Permit indicating that the installation has passed inspection.

  8. Keep a copy of the signed permit (off premises?) so that if there's ever a problem, you can prove the grill was “legally installed and approved”.

Some Considerations

What brands of electric grills can be direct-connected?

We will maintain a list of grills that people have researched for their "designed to be directly-connected" status.
If you'd like to see our list please use our Contact Us form to ask for the list, and we'll email you the current one.

Although we're not particularly pleased with the brand of grill we have (but we're not fans of electric grills in the first place.) the list begins with just ours.

If you investigate other brands/models, please use the same Contact Us form to tell us what you've learned.  We'll add it to the list!

Can we see your grill as it is now legally installed?

Sure … notice the heavy duty pad to protect our new coating.  You can find these at Lowes.


How about a closeup of the "direct-connect"?

Here it is.  The grill cord "direct-connects" to the left circuit of the box (220V).  On the right is the standard 110V receptacle:


That's a 220V connection in your picture? Can I use 220V also?

Yes, it is 220V, which is required for larger grills like the one we own.
But the standard circuit installed to our balconies is 110V only.
We bought pre-construction and specified in our purchase contract that both 220V and 110V should be provided to the balcony.
So, all we can say is to get an electrician to check to see if you have an electric service with enough spare capacity to support an extra 220V circuit, and if so, if they can re-run the connection to the balcony.

Laws about grilling in FL seem to be in flux.  Isn't there some chance that if we wait, electric grills will, again, be allowed?

That's possible.
In fact, here's an opinion from the principle engineer at the National Fire Prevention Association:
In the 2009 edition of NFPA 1, the provision allowing listed electric grills on balconies was deleted. It is the intent of the Code to prohibit all cooking equipment on balconies (other than one- and two-family dwellings) unless it is listed, permanently installed equipment. The title of Section 10.10 (2015 edition) is “Open Flames, Candles, Open Fires, and Incinerators.” Titles are not enforceable – there is no scoping provision limiting Section 10.10 to only flame producing equipment. Historically, that is what this section applied to.
At the recent pre-first draft meeting for the 2018 edition, the committee reviewed a public input to add language to specifically permit electric grills on balconies. At this time the unofficial position of the committee is to not revise the current language. The committee will take an official action at its October first draft meeting and subsequent ballot.
Gregory Harrington, P.E. Principal Fire Protection Engineer NFPA - Quincy, MA USA

I'm not a fan of grilling. Why don't we just pass a rule to prohibit it?

If Somerset had a rule against grilling, we never would have bought here.  Allowing grilling makes our units more desirable.

Can't I just cut off the plug of my current grill and direct connect it?

Well, yes, I suspect that could be done.
But if you/your grill causes a fire, you can bet the insurance company (averse as they are to paying out money) will work very hard to prove your grill ISN'T designed to be “direct connected” or wasn't installed properly by the electrician.
So don't waste your time.  Go through this process.  You'll sleep better knowing the city of Indian Harbour Beach has certified it to be “legal”.

If I have a grill that’s designed to be direct-connected, why can't I just use it with a plug that plugs into a GFI outlet?  Does direct-connecting it really make it safer?

It doesn't make much sense to us.
But the FFPC only allows “permanently installed equipment”.
If you can easily plug/un-plug it, it’s not permanent.

Can we see the letter Fire Marshall McKillop wrote about your grill being legal?
Yep!


What does the Buiding Permit form look like?

This:



This site is provided by Somerset Residents Ron & Susan Rockhold.