London Fire Brigade

Blaze concern over Bank Holiday 'Balcony BBQs'

23 May 2014

The London Fire Brigade has expressed fire safety concerns over so-called ‘Balcony BBQs’  which are being marketed as ‘the perfect solution for the space-conscious cook.’ The advice comes ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, when temperatures are set to reach 21 degrees.

Balcony BBQs are sold by several online retailers, including Firebox, whose website states that ‘not everyone has the luxury of boundless green gardens and varnished oak decking to enjoy their summer. Owners of balconies, roof terraces and small gardens rejoice. The Balcony BBQ has landed!’

The product is being sold on several websites which do not appear to feature any fire safety guidance.

The Brigade says that barbecues should never be lit on balconies due to the risk of them causing fires. It said that balcony fires are of particular concern given the high proportion of flat-dwellers in the capital – estimates put the number of high rise flats at 45,000 in London alone.

Ahead of the May bank holiday weekend it has released new figures which show that in London:

• Last summer 89 fires were caused by barbecues, including six fires on balconies
• Since April this year there have been 11 barbecue fires, including one balcony fire

Mark Hazelton, Community Safety Group Manager for London Fire Brigade, said:

“These products could prove to be dangerous and we’d urge people not to light barbecues on their balconies. Balconies are often enclosed and it’s easy for barbecues to get out of control and cause a fire which can then spread to other properties.

“If you’re planning a barbecue this bank holiday, it’s important to place the barbecue on level ground and well away from anything that could catch fire, such as fences, overhanging trees and sheds – or in this case, other people’s balconies.

“It’s vital that you never leave your barbecue unattended and make sure it’s completely out once finished with. People sometimes just leave them smouldering and that’s often when the problems start.”

London Fire Brigade’s top barbecue safety tips:

  • Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies
  • Barbecues must be placed on level ground so they don’t tip over
  • Only use approved barbecue fuel or fire lighters. Never use petrol or paraffin
  • 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

For gas barbecues:

  • If using gas, store gas cylinders outside, away from direct sunlight and frost.
  • Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder.
  • After cooking, turn the gas supply off first and then the barbecue control. This will stop any gas from leaking.
  • Make sure all joints are tightened, safe and secure

Ends

Notes to editors

For further advice on barbecue safety, visit the Brigade’s website.