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Fire service asks public to avoid disposable BBQs this holiday

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is asking the public to think twice about using disposable BBQs this holiday.

Wayne Rawlins, area manager for risk at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue says:

“Every year we see so many preventable fires caused by disposable BBQs. They are a not only a fire risk when they’re being used, but also pose a risk when being disposed of, causing bin fires, and further damage to the environment to vegetation that has caught alight. They’re not really disposable at all.

“Last spring we attended an incident in Kingswear, Devon, caused by a disposable BBQ. The owner had taken many sensible precautions but hadn’t considered the impact of the wind blowing the BBQ flame onto dry grass. Unfortunately it quickly got out of control and our crews fought the fire for three days.

“The safest place for a BBQ is at home – as long as you follow sensible precautions. All fire is a risk.”

Watch a video about the Kingswear BBQ fire

The risk of wildfires peaks in spring. This is when the flammability of vegetation is at its highest, with the most dead leaf and woody matter available to burn.

Wildfires take resources away from other emergencies. One of the most resource-intensive fires attended by the fire service (Woodbury Common in April 2017) was attended by more than 200 firefighters and had 30 fire engines (approximately a quarter of the entire fleet) on scene at the same time to fight the fire.

If you cannot avoid using a disposable BBQ, you should:

  1. Think carefully about your surroundings. Is it legal for you to have a BBQ where you are? Are you away from anything that could catch fire, such as trees, dry grass, bushes and fences?
  2. Is the surface you’re putting the BBQ on safe? Disposable BBQs need to be placed on something flat which won’t catch alight e.g. stone/paving slabs. The bottom of disposable BBQs gets very hot and can easily burn what’s underneath.
  3. Always consider the wind. A gust of wind is all it takes to spread a spark or flame from a disposable BBQ.
  4. Stay with your BBQ at all times. Make sure you have a large bottle or bucket of water or sand nearby at all times, to control the fire or to put it out when you are finished.
  5. Dispose of your BBQ safely and thoughtfully. Coals and BBQ containers can stay hot for hours after you’ve finished cooking. Do not move a BBQ until it has cooled down and never throw it in a bin you’re sure that it is completely cold. Even a small amount of warmth can start a bin fire and cause significant damage.
  6. Never put burnt out BBQs or coals in your vehicle. They continue to emit poisonous carbon monoxide after they have burnt.