Staying safe: Fire officials worried about propane, outdoor grills at restaurants

General Manager Dan Demczak for Cafe Lurcat hooks up propane tanks for two substitute grills to help accommodate the loss of all their gas appliances. Cafe Lurcat was left with limited items, serving only 25 percent of their regular menu and using only one of two kitchens at the restaurant.  The ruptured gas-line caused most area restaurants to loose all their gas appliances forcing many establishments to rent or purchase propane cook tops and induction stovetops.  A gas line explosion that occurred on Thursday night in Fort Myers Florida is affecting hundreds of restaurants and business. Staff\Manuel Martinez

Photo by MANUEL MARTINEZ // Buy this photo

General Manager Dan Demczak for Cafe Lurcat hooks up propane tanks for two substitute grills to help accommodate the loss of all their gas appliances. Cafe Lurcat was left with limited items, serving only 25 percent of their regular menu and using only one of two kitchens at the restaurant. The ruptured gas-line caused most area restaurants to loose all their gas appliances forcing many establishments to rent or purchase propane cook tops and induction stovetops. A gas line explosion that occurred on Thursday night in Fort Myers Florida is affecting hundreds of restaurants and business. Staff\Manuel Martinez

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Some close, others offer limited menu

— Collier-area fire marshals say they are concerned that some restaurants, in an effort to keep their stoves on during the gas outage, could put their cooks and customers in danger.

Larry Bacci, the City of Naples Fire Marshal, said on Monday that he discovered several restaurants and hotels in Naples were hooking in propane tanks to power their interior stoves. At least one restaurant, he added, brought an outdoor grill inside for cooking.

Using propane indoors raises the danger of carbon-monoxide poisoning and explosions, Bacci explained.

Other restaurants and hotels across Collier and Lee counties have moved their kitchens outdoors to be able to serve customers. On Monday, fire marshals pointed out that many temporary outdoor kitchens don’t meet current fire code standards, either.

Looking to address safety concerns, but also try to be understanding about restaurants losing revenue, fire marshals from City of Naples, East Naples, Golden Gate and North Naples held a special meeting Monday to discuss a consistent approach to inspections for businesses still suffering from the gas outage.

The fire marshals agreed to allow restaurants to temporarily cook outside with outdoor grills and stoves, as long it is installed safely, but not to allow any grills or propane tanks inside.

“Move it outside,” said North Naples Fire Marshal Dave Raub. Fire inspectors are not looking to immediately fine violators but instead trying to educate them on the dangers of bringing propane tanks indoors.

Raub admitted that the gas outage that has affected TECO Gas customers since Thursday posed “an unusual situation” for the businesses and for the fire departments charged with ensuring they meet fire code requirements. Raub said that he doesn’t want businesses to suffer anymore loss because of the outage, but he also doesn’t want them to put their employees and customers in danger.

The fire marshals also explored ways of getting a list of TECO Gas customers so they can perform inspections to ensure that any business modifying its kitchen during the gas outage is doing it safely.

While fire marshals are not inspecting homes affected by the gas outage, they also implored residents not to propane tanks inside for cooking.

Connect with Aaron Hale at www.naplesnews.com/staff/aaron-hale

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