Those of us who are savvy in the smoking world will know the beauty that is a Pit Boss. However, if you are finding that your Pit Boss is catching fire, you are probably concerned. Fortunately, there are ways to tend to this and prevent it from happening again.
If your Pit Boss has caught fire, never use water to put it out. Instead, cut off the oxygen supply by closing the lid and unplugging the grill. If need be, you can smother the fire (especially if there is grease) with baking soda or salt. Move the smoker away from potential future fire hazards.
Luckily for you, your Pit Boss catching fire does not mean the end of the world. It is something that can be contained quite easily as long as you pay close attention and are able to catch it before things get out of control. If they do get out of control, you are still capable of putting it out, but with just a bit of extra work. Continue reading to figure out what to do if your Pit Boss has caught fire and how to prevent it.
What Can Cause Your Smoker to Catch Fire?
The scenario is unlikely, but Pit Bosses do catch fire and there are reasons behind such a nightmarish situation happening. Although it may seem like a big deal while you are in the midst of it, try to keep calm and deal with the issue level-headedly.
The top two reasons that your smoker (Pit Boss) catches fire include grease fires and pellet fires. Tending to these includes staying calm, unplugging the machine if you can do so safely, keeping the lid closed, moving away from the smoker, moving the smoker away from hazardous materials, and smothering the fire.
Let’s take a closer look at what can cause your smoker to catch fire in the first place so that you will know how to specifically approach these incidents should they arise.
What Causes a Pit Boss Grease Fire?
Grease fires are no joke. If you have ever been twelve-years-old and cooking bacon for the first time only to end up smoking up the kitchen while tiny flames lick the side of your skillet, you know the fear.
Grease fires start fast and grow even faster. They are hot, they are vicious, and they are difficult to contain when you are in the (literal) heat of the moment. It may seem like an unlikely possibility when smoking, but grease fires can happen in your Pit Boss, and here’s how:
There is something on your smoker called a drip tray. This is where all the excess fats fall from your meats and collect. The smoker is designed to keep flames away from this area. However, if you do not properly clean the grease tray the build-up can become quite substantial.
I have found that even with one seven pound hunk of fatty meat alone, there has been enough grease to notice a significant run-off. If the grease gets to a dangerous build-up, it is closely exposed to extreme heat. No, it is not exposed to an open flame, but the heat in your smoker can reach high enough temperatures to ignite it and get a good grease fire going.
Remember, you are working to smoke your meats, not flame broil them. Once this fire gets going, it is a downhill battle from there until you are able to stifle it enough to subdue its raging roar.
What Causes a Pit Boss Pellet Fire?
With your Pit Boss, you are using pellets in order to get a serious flow of smoke going. To get those pellets properly fed to a fire you have a pellet hopper that slowly feeds your pellets to a flame in the firepot that enables you to smoke very evenly for long amounts of time. Really, the process is genius because all you have to do is fill it up and wait it out. However, sometimes these parts malfunction and can lead to a fire in the wrong place.
When there is no fire in the firepot, pellets can continue to feed into that area. When this happens, an overflow occurs which means there is an excessive amount of pellets in the firepot that have not been burned and unburned pellets belong in the pellet hopper. When all of those excess pellets ignite, there is too much for your smoker to handle (remember, the goal is to cook slowly and evenly) and a fire is ignited in and around the firepot.
A pellet fire starts in the belly of your Pit Boss and will work its way up to the grill as the flames get larger. You will be able to notice it first thing if you look down into your smoker and see flames licking up the sides of your smoker. Sometimes the flames can be intense and can even surround the item that you are smoking. If you suspect a large pellet fire, avoid opening the lid if it is already closed to avoid being burned yourself
What to Do if Your Pit Boss Has Caught on Fire
If you are in the middle of trying to put down the flames that are coming out of your Pit Boss, you want to act quickly and calmly.
There are a few main things to do if your Pit Boss has caught fire. These include:
1. Stay Cool While Your Smoker Heats Up
This is a depressing play on words, but the fact of the matter is that your Pit Boss is on fire. I know, it’s horrifying and dream-crushing, but you running around your neighborhood screaming in terror and sobbing like a toddler over the reality will get you nowhere. Try to stay cool and remain calm. A calm grill master is the type of grill master that is capable of anything and you can handle this. Keep your cool and you will be able to handle the situation with ease.
2. Unplug Your Pit Boss
Your Pit Boss is hooked up to some type of power source to keep those pellets feeding and that smoker smoking. If you see or suspect a fire, make sure first that you are able to safely approach your Pit Boss and then unplug that bad boy. By cutting off the power source, your smoker will no longer be able to feed pellets and thus the fire will eventually go out. If you have a grease fire, the power cut will help to cut off any continuing heat.
3. Keep the Lid Closed
The biggest fuel to fire is oxygen. Whether you have a grease or pellet fire on your Pit Boss, fire needs oxygen to survive. If you catch a fire in the works, close your smoker up and let it run its course. This is going to be your best bet when it comes to putting the fire out and will eventually do work without you having to intervene much more. If you suspect a fire and the lid is already closed, leave it be and step away. Opening it can lead to a massive ambush of fire.
4. Move the Smoker Away from Potential Fire Hazards
First and foremost, your smoker should never be in an area where there are any fire hazards around it. It should be placed in an open area with plenty of room for airflow and away from flammable items. However, if you find yourself in a position where the smoker is close to something flammable either move the item itself or push the smoker away from the hazardous area as long as the fire is contained within the smoker.
5. Smother the Fire
If you find yourself in a position where completing these steps is not leading to the fire being extinguished, you have one other option before a fire extinguisher: smother it. To do this you need either a good amount of baking soda or salt. Baking soda releases CO2, and salt draws heat out of the fire, both of these will be able to extinguish flames on contact. Just remember both need to be cleaned from your smoker after the flames have subsided.
How to Prevent Your Pit Boss from Catching Fire
Now that you know what to do with your Pit Boss if it has caught fire, it is time to take up your bootstraps and actively plan to prevent this disaster from ever occurring again. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to prevent your Pit Boss from catching fire (in the first place or again- depending on your situation).
To prevent your Pit Boss from catching fire, follow these suggestions:
- Keep your Pit Boss clean. One of the major culprits for your Pit Boss catching fire is excessive oil, grease, or other remains. Be sure to regularly clean your Pit Boss after each use to avoid accidentally catching your smoker on fire.
- Avoid using excessive heat without sufficient management. Using a smoker has many advantages- especially in the prolonged period that you can cook at high heat. However, it is important that you continuously monitor your Pit Boss for effective cooking to maintain what is inside of the smoker. Be sure to monitor the flames and internal temperature to ensure safety for your continued use.
- Keep your Pit Boss lid closed when possible. Unless your recipe calls for it, you will want to keep the lid closed to prevent too much oxygen from entering the smoker. Not only will this help to prevent fires, but it will help to maintain the smokiness on your meat (or whatever else you are smoking). And, after all, that is kind of the point of using your smoker in the first place.
- Avoid placing the Pit Boss near hazardous materials. As mentioned above, you do not want your smoker to be placed near hazardous or flammable materials in the first place. Be sure to move all unnecessary components away from the smoker- especially while it is in action. This can help to prevent additional or accidental flames from catching the Pit Boss on fire.
These, among other suggestions, can help you to prevent the Pit Boss from catching fire in the first place.
Is Your Pit Boss Ruined After a Fire?
Although it may seem like the end of the world, usually, a fire within your Pit Boss does not mean you have to toss the whole machine. Typically, they are able to withstand a fire and will function just fine with only surface-level damage to note.
If you do see real damage, simply replace the parts rather than the entire smoker. Parts are easily found and readily available for purchase. If your smoker survives, it will simply wear a battle scar for the rest of its smoking days.
Still, this does not mean that the Pit Boss is ruined forever. The biggest thing to do now is to learn from your mistakes and to take active steps toward preventing a smoker fire in the future.
Scot has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Scot spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.