Mayor's Office

Press Release

Temporary Barbecue & Smoking Ban to be Lifted in all but twelve City Parks



December 5, 2011 -- Mayor Annise Parker, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) and the Houston Fire Department (HFD) have announced that the temporary ban on barbecuing, grilling and smoking put in place for all City parks last September is being lifted, effective today, for all but twelve City of Houston parks.


“This year's drought has been especially devastating to our city," said Mayor Annise Parker. "Since the summer, we've been working to remove fire fuel sources in our parks. As a result of this work and the increased rainfall we’ve been experiencing, the fire risk has declined.  However, there is still concern about 12 heavily forested City parks where the dead tree removal has not been completed.  Therefore, the temporary ban on grilling and smoking will remain in place for those parks.”


The temporary ban continues in the following 12 parks.  Signs will remain in place to advise the public that there is a temporary grilling & smoking ban in effect will remain on place in these parks.


COH Parks With Temporary BBQ Pit & Smoking Ban


Brock Park

8201 John Ralston, 77078

Coolgreen Corridor/Strickland Park

300 Highridge, 77015

Cullen Park

19008 Saums, 77084

Cullinan/Oyster Creek Park

Hwy 6 S, Sugarland Airport, 77478

Hermann Park

6001 Fannin, 77030

Herman Brown Park

400 Mercury, 77013

J.S. & L.H. Cullinan Park

6700 Long Drive, 77087

Keith Wiess Park

12300 Aldine, 77093

Lake Houston Wilderness Park

22031 Baptist Encampment

Memorial Park

6501 Memorial, 77007

Tidwell Park

9720 Spaulding, 77016

West 11th Street Park

2600 W. 11th, 77008


“We appreciate the public’s support over the last few months and know that they will continue to refrain from grilling and smoking in the 12 parks where the temporary ban remains in place," said Joe Turner, Director, Houston Parks and Recreation Department. "Our HPARD Urban Forestry staff has worked with the debris removal contractor since October and to date, over 5,000 hazardous trees have been removed.  We currently estimate there are still another 10,000 trees to be removed.  We expect the work to be completed in late January or mid-February, barring any unforeseen weather conditions."


Even though the temporary ban on grilling and smoking is being lifted in most COH parks, citizens are advised to continue to practice the following HFD Fire Safety Tips:


Barbeque Safety


  • Portable barbecue pits, charcoal grills and other open-flame cooking devices outside of a building should not be operated on combustible balconies or located within 10 feet of combustible walls or roofs or other combustible materials.
  • When igniting the barbecue charcoal, use a charcoal lighter, not gasoline. Gasoline can flash violently in and around the pit causing serious injuries to anyone in the area of the flash. A fire extinguisher or charged garden hose should be handy while the fire is burning. Check the pit frequently to ensure that it is okay.
  • Hot ash and coals from barbecue pits and charcoal burners should be placed in a non-combustible container until cooled or thoroughly saturated with water, before being disposed.


Vehicles, Trailers and Tools


  • Park vehicles so that the exhaust system does not come in contact with dry grass, leaves, or weeds.
  • Adjust the safety chains on trailers to ensure they don’t drag and create sparks that can cause roadside starts.
  • Keep lawn mowers and agricultural equipment in proper working condition and avoid rocks and other materials which might cause a spark.
  • Do not weld or cut without a spotter, a water source and a shovel.
  • Notify the electric power company when dead trees or overhanging limbs endanger the electric wires.  The wires may touch each other or the ground, causing sparks that start fires.


Cigarettes or Other Smoking Materials


  • Another cause of accidental fires is carelessly discarded cigarettes or other smoking materials.  They can smolder for hours and should be completely doused with water before being discarded in a safe manner, rather than tossed out a window or on the ground.
  • Texas’ arson law includes felony punishment for anyone whose cigarette recklessly sets fire to a building or injures anyone.  Arson is a second-degree felony in Texas, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but if a person is hurt or killed or if the fire involves a church, arson is a first-degree felony, carrying possible punishment of up to life in prison.


“The Houston Fire Department reminds citizens that the City of Houston is always under an open burn ban and it is illegal to burn in the City without an approved permit,” said Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison.  “HFD continues to encourage citizens to be vigilant about safety when using barbeque pits and smoking materials.”


Per the City’s fire code, illegal open burning (without a permit) includes: bonfires, rubbish fires, campfires, trench fires, or other fire in an outdoor location where fuel being burned is not contained in an approved incinerator, such as an outdoor fireplace, barbecue grill or barbecue pit.