Kent Fire & Rescue Service

Barbecues, braziers, fire pits and chimineas

During the summer months, it's only natural to want to be outside, enjoying a lighting a barbecue with family and friends, or sitting around a fire pit or brazier. But there are dangers that lurk behind such fun pursuits.

Using petrol to light them or leaving it unattended are two of the most common mistakes people make. Every summer this results in firefighters being called to fires caused by barbecues or braziers that have got out of control. In some instances, this has led to serious injuries and damage to property.

A top ingredient for a great barbecue is to make sure that you cook with safety in mind. We really want residents of Kent and Medway to enjoy the opportunities the good weather brings, so follow our simple common sense advice, and make sure your barbecue runs smoothly.

Charcoal barbecues or wood burning fire pits and braziers

  • Make sure that your barbecue or brazier is in good working order
  • Make sure the site chosen is flat
  • This must be well away from your property, sheds, fences and overhanging branches and other foliage that could catch fire
  • Use only enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue to a depth of about 50mm (two inches)
  • Use only recognised fire lighters or starter fuel, and only use on cold coals. Use the minimum quantity necessary to start the fire
  • Keep children and garden games well away from the fire area
  • Never leave the barbecue, brazier, fire pit or chiminea unattended
  • When the cooking is finished, and you're finished sitting around the fire pit - make sure it's cool before trying to move it
  • Empty the spent ashes onto bare garden soil
  • Never put ashes straight into a dustbin or wheelie bin

Gas barbecues

These use bottled gas, so follow these simple rules:

  • Make sure the tap is turned off before changing the gas cylinder
  • Change gas cylinders in the open air if possible, otherwise open doors and windows to provide good ventilation
  • If you suspect a leak in the gas cylinder or pipework brush soapy water around all joints and watch for bubbles
  • If you find a leaky joint, try to tighten it, but do not over-tighten
  • Do not keep more spare gas cylinders than you need
  • Store gas cylinders outside (protect from frost and direct sunlight)
  • Do not store gas cylinders under the stairs of your home. If you are upstairs this is your means of escape from a fire
  • When you have finished cooking with a gas barbecue, turn off the gas cylinder before the barbecue controls, this makes sure that any residue gas in the pipeline is used up
  • Enjoy yourselves, but remember... excessive alcohol and fire are a lethal mix
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