Warning over fire safety as BBQ season begins in Bedford

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BBQ fire safety

Spring has well and truly sprung and as this Easter bank holiday is set for glorious weather, you may be planning a BBQ of two, so Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue have issued some tips for BBQ safety.

Andy Martin, Area Community Safety Officer, explains: “Each year the Fire Service get called to a number of fires started when BBQ’s get out of control. and sets light to plants, fences or sheds.”

There are general tips for BBQ safety:

  • Never leave a BBQ unattended and it is on a flat surface, well away from fences, sheds, trees or shrubs.
  • Never cook if you have been drinking alcohol and keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area.
  • Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies and always ensure the BBQ is cold before attempting to move it.
  • All BBQs produce carbon monoxide (CO), which is a deadly invisible odourless gas. Never use any fuel-burning devices (e.g. barbecues, camping stoves, camping heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills) inside.
  • BBQs still give off CO gas and fumes for hours after they have been used so don’t put them back into storage until they are fully out and the spent fuel is disposed of properly.

Then there are tips if you’re using a disposable BBQ:

  • If you use disposable barbecues make sure they are placed on a solid, fireproof and even surface, such as bricks or paving slabs. Don’t place directly onto wooden decking.
  • Use disposable BBQs well away from the house, sheds, fences, benches and wooden play equipment.
  • After using a disposable BBQ 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 pour water over the ash to make sure it’s out.
BBQ fire safety kettle bbq
Never leave a BBQ or gas grill unattended.

Tips for reusable charcoal BBQ:

  • When using a charcoal BBQ only use enough charcoal to cover the base to a depth of about 50mm (2 inches).
  • Only use proper fire lighters or starter fuel on cold coals and only ever the minimum necessary.
  • Never use petrol, paraffin or lighter fuel.
  • Never put firelighters or liquid fuels on to a lit BBQ.

Tips for using a gas grill:

  • Make sure the gas tap is turned off before changing cylinder.
  • Change cylinders outdoors, or in a well ventilated area. If you suspect a leak to the cylinder or hose, brush soapy water around the joints and watch for bubbles – tighten as required to seal, but do not overtighten.
  • After cooking, turn off the gas at the cylinder before turning off at the controls, to ensure any residual gas in the hose is used up.
BBQ fire safety white coals
Give your charcoal BBQ time to heat up properly and don’t start cooking until you have hot (white) coals and not flickering flames.

Andy Martin adds: “By far the biggest danger is the use of flammable liquids to light the barbecue.

“The Service have responded to a couple of incidents where people have poured petrol onto the charcoal in an effort to get it going and the reaction has, not surprisingly, been violent and highly dangerous.

“Fire Service advice is to prepare your BBQ well in advance and light the charcoal early so it has time to warm up to cooking temperature.

“Remember you are looking for hot (white) coals and not flickering flames. Don’t forget to also thoroughly cook your food through to avoid food poisoning.”