London Fire Brigade

Warning to keep safe during summer after dozens of calls to barbecue fires

23 June 2017

We’re urging Londoners to keep safe when cooking on barbecues this summer.

Since April, the Brigade has attended around 30 fires in the capital started by barbecues – almost three a week.

If they are not used properly, barbecues can cause serious fires which can spread quickly.

A few months ago, ten fire engines and 72 firefighters were called to a blaze in Greenford which destroyed a house. The fire is believed to have started after a hot disposable barbecue was left on decking.

The annual number of barbecue fires has reached over 60 in recent years and with the figure already at half that this year, the Brigade is urging residents to follow our fire safety advice to try and prevent any more this summer.

We are also warning people against ever using barbecues on balconies, as they can easily catch fire and put the lives of all residents inside the building at risk.

However, if barbecues are used properly and basic safety advice is followed, the danger can be greatly reduced.

Residents should make sure their barbecues are kept away from homes, fences, sheds, garden furniture, trees, shrubs and tents and never left unattended.

It is also important to store cylinders safely if you are using gas barbecues, and to ensure valves are off before cylinders are changed. Never add barbecue starter fluid or anything flammable to a barbecue once its been lit.

Barbecues should always be placed on level ground where they won’t tip over, and never leave them sitting on anything that can burn until they’re completely cool.

Children, pets and garden games should be kept well away from the cooking area and it’s never a good idea to drink too much alcohol while in charge of a barbecue.

Always make sure barbecues are properly extinguished and remember ash should never be put in a dustbin.

It is also a good idea to keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby in case of an emergency.

London Fire Brigade Group Manager Mark Hazelton said: “Too often barbecues are left unattended or placed too close to flammable items like sheds, trees or fences.  Sometimes people try to restart barbecues using white spirit or other flammable liquids leading to massive flare ups that can set fire to anything nearby.

“Even small disposable barbecues can cause considerable damage if you don’t keep a close eye on them.

“It’s really important to make sure they’re completely out once you’ve finished with them.

“It seems crazy we need to tell people not to use barbecues on balconies or indoors, but we clearly do.

“Barbecue fires can spread quickly and could not only damage your home, but could cause serious injury or worse.  By just taking a few simple precautions everyone can get to enjoy their barbecues safely.”