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Grillers – be advised

Reid Williams

SUMMIT COUNTY – A change in consumer product safety regulations is surprising some would-be summertime grillers – and it’s costing them money.

As of April 1, propane grill tanks are required to have new, safer valves installed before refilling. The change was instituted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to reduce propane leaks and explosions. Propane vendors are prohibited from filling older tanks that do not have the new valve.

“This time of year, we’re filling a lot of tanks,” said R.J. Bergman of Ferrellgas in Frisco. “A lot of people have been mad, but it’s not our policy. If you have an old tank, you have to change it.”

According to the safety commission, about 600 fires or explosions linked to gas grills occur each year, injuring about 30 people. Lake Dillon Fire District public information officer Lt. Mike Roll said propane tanks haven’t been a cause of fires in Summit County, but they have caused problems in other areas. He said propane tanks, especially leaking ones, are a concern any time a wildfire approaches a house or a house with a grill catches fire.

Most propane tanks bought in 1998 or after are equipped with the new valve. For grill owners who don’t have the new safety valve, there are several options. Bergman said Ferrellgas employees can replace the valve, as long as the tank is still in good shape.

“We have an exchange program that’s pretty easy,” said Beth Gladu at AmeriGas in Breckenridge. “If they have an old tank, they can just bring it in and for $20 we’ll give them a new tank, and it’s full.”

Grillers also can purchase a new tank and valve from other vendors.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted other safety-related standards in 1995 addressing grills, hoses and connections. The commission urges grillers to inspect their grills, if purchased before 1995, and check the following:

n Hoses should be replaced if they are cracking or brittle.

n Hoses should be located as far as possible from heat surfaces and dripping grease.

n Keep propane tanks upright.

n Do not store spare tanks under the grill or indoors.

n Never keep a filled gas tank in a hot car or trunk.


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