As we approach summer, it’s the time of year when we start to unpack the barbecue, dust it down and get those sausages sizzling. However, barbecues, and especially the smaller, portable ones, can cause a fire if they are not disposed of properly. In fact, over the last Easter weekend the fire fighters across the UK tackled five major blazes including one on Marsden Moor in Greater Manchester which was started by a disposable barbecue.
A barbecue should be a safe and enjoyable experience but it’s all too easy to be distracted when you have friends and family around you whilst cooking. So, to keep you and your family fire safe during barbecue season this summer, we’ve come up with some advice and guidelines to prevent unnecessary disasters.
One of the main dangers when lighting a barbecue comes with the use of flammable liquids. It’s not uncommon for people to pour petrol onto the charcoal in an effort to get it going and the reaction has, not surprisingly, been violent and highly dangerous.
You should always prepare your barbecue well in advance and light the charcoal early.
To avoid injuries or damage to property follow these simple precautions:
If you do use a disposable barbecue, it is imperative that they are placed on an even surface on either bricks or paving slabs and placed well away from the house, shed or fences.
Do not use disposable barbecues near or on public benches.
If you're using a disposable barbecue you should ensure it has cooled before putting it in the bin. To avoid starting a fire you should allow it to cool for several hours and then consider pouring water over it to make sure it's out.
Use only enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches). Only use recognised fire lighters or starter fuel and only on cold coals; use the minimum necessary and never use petrol.
You should never put hot ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin as they could melt the plastic and cause a fire.
Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder and always change cylinders outdoors or in a well ventilated area
If you suspect a leak to the cylinder or pipe work, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles, then tighten to fix but do not overtighten
After cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before turning off at the controls to ensure any residual gas in the pipe work is used up
The safest way to extinguish barbecue fires is to invest in some fire safety equipment like fire extinguishers and fire blankets.
A water fire extinguisher is not suitable to put out a barbecue as the fire is likely fuelled by burning animal fats from the steaks, burgers and sausages and oil fires and water just do not mix. Using water will spray the fire and burning oil in mini explosions. Foam extinguishers, like the 1 litre foam commander extinguisher which is recommended for kitchen and chip pan fires is a better choice. This costs just £18 + VAT and can be ordered directly from our website.
Alternatively, you could opt for a Commander Edge 1 or 2 litre dry powder extinguisher which will extinguish the average barbecue fire. Just be warned that the powder does leave a messy residue and the space around the fire will be filled with a cloud of fine dust. Prices start from £14 + VAT from Hartson Fire.
If you don’t want to use a fire extinguisher, you could invest in a fire blanket instead. Make sure the blanket is of sufficient size to cover the whole barbecue. The 1.8 x 1.75 metre Commander blanket is the ideal size for all but the most elaborate models and can be quickly deployed to blanket and smother the flames. The advantage of using a fire blanket is that when the fire is out you may be able to retrieve most of the food even if it is a tad well done!