London Fire Brigade

Sizzle safely this summer

26 May 2010

With a bank holiday and National Barbecue Week fast approaching,  London’s firefighters are advising people to take care with barbecues. Every year the Brigade is called to fires caused by barbecues, but by following a few simple fire safety rules, this situation can be avoided.

Andy Hickmott, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Fire Safety, said: “We want people to enjoy the warm weather but also to be aware that barbecues can be perilous if not used properly. If you’re careless with your barbecue you could burn more than your sausages this bank holiday”.

Only last weekend firefighters were called to a fire on the decking of a flat in south west London which had been caused by a disposable barbecue. The barbecue had been left unattended and caused a fire which badly damaged the decking, it also affected the flat. Fortunately no one was injured in the fire.

Andy Hickmott went on to say: “It’s really dangerous to light a barbecue on your balcony or wooden decking. It’s also not advisable to light it with petrol and it shouldn’t be left unattended at any time”.

Top barbecue fire 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.
  • 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.

Notes to editors

UK National BBQ Week is on May 31 - June 

For more fire safety advice on barbecues, please visit