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The Turkeys Are Coming

A good reminder about what is coming and how to combat it in this post from FF Charlie Hillman.  Without a doubt we will end up seeing some crazy pictures or videos of turkey assisted fires within the week.

With thanksgiving right around the corner, it may be a good time to review some tactics for turkey deep fryer fires.  Personally, I am a big fan of the deep fried turkey because everything is better deep fried!  However, as we all know the turkey deep fryer can cause disastrous consequences for the careless cook.


Hopefully, most people who choose to deep fry a turkey will perform the activity outside of their home.  Assuming that the cook does decide to deep fry the turkey outdoors, they sometimes exercise poor judgment in the location of where they deep fry the turkey.  Fires have occurred on wooden decks and inside garages amongst other locations.  A cook who is not attentive to the concept of displacement often encounters trouble.  The cooking oil is heated in excess of 350o F and when a wet or frozen turkey is placed into the hot cauldron of cooking oil it causes a furious reaction between the oil and water.  Compounding the problem is that an inattentive cook may have filled the deep fryer with too much oil which is displaced when the turkey is inserted into the deep fryer.  With the turkey in the deep fryer and the oil running over, the oil reaches the flame from the propane burner and is ignited.  The cook may not have the ability to shut the propane off that is fueling the deep fryer.  Now the oil is starting to involve the combustible wooden deck (sometimes with an abundance of dry leaves) or the smooth concrete floor of the garage.  If the deep fryer is inside of a garage the hot oil can shoot up to the ceiling and out from the deep fryer to involve the combustible contents of the garage.  Either way the 20 lb propane tank is in serious danger of BLEVE due to the flame impingement from the resulting fire.

What would our initial tactics be on a fire involving a turkey deep fryer?  Run down your tactical priorities as usual and then go to work.  If the fire is occurring on a wooden deck our priority would be to remove a potential burned victim from the proximity of the fire, isolate the propane tank by turning off the valve, and then extinguish the fire as quickly as possible.  If the fire is well involved upon arrival, priority must be taken to send a crew to the inside of the structure to prevent extension to the interior via soffits (to the attic)and extending fire via combustible vinyl siding.  Hoseline stretches may present a problem due to the probability of the fire being on the C side of the structure.  Make sure you stretch an adequate length of hose to extinguish the fire.  If you’re preconnect is too short, have a plan to extend your line.  If a large volume of fire is present, consider a 2 ½” hoseline and direct it into the soffit area to prevent extension into the attic.  Similar tactics would be used if the fire was started in an attached garage.  However, building codes typically require garages to have one 5/8” sheet of fire rated drywall between the attached garage and the house.  This drywall can work to our advantage by keeping the fire confined to the area of the garage.  We can start our attack by extending our hoseline through the house and attacking the fire from the interior of the home.

Good public education is paramount during the Thanksgiving season to prevent these types of fires, but for those that don’t heed the warning…

Pass it on!

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