London Fire Brigade

Stay safe during ‘Barbecue Easter’

21 April 2011

With the temperature set to tip 26C mark this Easter, London’s firefighters are anticipating people will be barbecuing in record numbers.

New reports have already dubbed the period ‘Barbecue Easter’ and supermarkets have reported a massive rise in sales of barbecues.
Catherine Levin, London Fire Brigade’s Deputy Head of Community Safety, said: “Barbecues are great but they can be lethal if you aren’t careful. Each year our firefighters are called out to barbecues that have raged out of control and set fire to nearby fences, homes and sheds. We even get people barbecuing on balconies and wooden decking which is certainly a recipe for disaster.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep an eye on your barbecue at all times.”

If you don’t follow these top BBQ safety tips from the Brigade, you might end up burning more than your sausages this Easter:

  • Never, ever leave your BBQ unattended and make sure it’s completely out once you’ve finished cooking
  • Don’t use petrol or lighter fluid to light your BBQ
  • Take extra care if you’re BBQ-ing after a few drinks – it might be safer to hand the chef duties over to someone who’s not been drinking.

The Brigade is offering Londoners free home fire safety visits. Firefighters visit homes, talk to you about fire risks and fit free smoke alarms if they are needed. Go to 


Notes to editors

Top BBQ safety tips from London’s firefighters

  • Make sure your barbecue is placed on level ground where it won’t tip over.
  • Keep barbecues away from the house, sheds, fences, garden furniture and overhanging trees or shrubs. Don't put the barbecue where people have to squeeze past it.
  • Only use approved barbecue fuel or fire lighters. Never use petrol or paraffin. 
  • Keep children and garden games well away from the cooking area. 
  • Never leave the barbecue unattended 
  • If you are the chef, don’t drink too much alcohol while cooking. 
  • Watch out when you are cooking fatty foods. Lots of fat spilling onto the coals might make them flare up. 
  • When you have finished cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before you try to move it. 
  • Empty the spent ash on to bare garden soil - never put it in the dustbin.

When using gas BBQs

  • If you are using a bottled gas barbecue, make sure the controls and the cylinder valve are turned off before you change the cylinder. 
  • Change the cylinder in the open air if you can, otherwise open doors and windows to provide good ventilation. 
  • If you think there might be a leak in the gas cylinder connections or pipe, brush soapy water over all of the joints and watch out for bubbles. If you find a leaky joint, try to tighten it but don't over tighten it. If you are still concerned there may be a leak you should not use the barbecue and should get it checked by an expert. 
  • When you have finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder before the barbecue controls. This makes sure any leftover gas in the pipe is used up. 
  • Store your gas cylinders outside and protect from frost and direct sunlight. Don't keep more spare cylinders than you need.

For more fire safety advice on barbecues, please visit