Firefighters issue warning after two barbecue blazes

WITH the days heating up and summer rolling in, firefighters in Sussex are warning people to take a little extra care if using disposable barbecues while soaking in the sun’s rays.

Tuesday, 10th June 2014, 11:04 am
West Sussex fire SUS-140306-164242001

The warning follows a series of fires in Chichester and Bognor, yesterday evening (Monday, June 9), believed to have been caused by disposable barbecues.

Two fire crews from Chichester were needed to tackle a blaze at the Viridor transfer site, next to the Westhampnett depo shortly before 6pm last night.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were able to quickly extinguish the fire using high-pressure water hoses and jets.

Although, at this stage, the cause of the fire is unknown, recycling staff reported seeing a number of disposable barbecues discarded in the rubbish.

Then at 11.19pm last night two fire crews from Bognor were called to a blaze involving a disposable barbecue on the balcony of a first floor flat in Bognor High Street.

However, when firefighters arrived the blaze had already been extinguished. But they checked the area with a thermal imaging camera and cut away part of the wooden decking to ensure it could not reignite.

Speaking today, watch commander at Chichester Fire Station, Carl Halewood, said: “Both these incidents had the potential to be very serious indeed.

“Each year we are called to extinguish dozens of fires where barbecues have either got out of hand or where coals have been discarded carelessly.

“Now that the county is enjoying some hot weather we want to help people enjoy their summer socialising safely. By taking a few sensible precautions these kind of incidents are completely avoidable.”

There are a few precautions that people can take to ensure their alfresco cooking remains safe:

n When using a disposable barbecue make sure the coals are completely cold before throwing them away;

n Do not leave your barbecue unattended at any time;

n Make sure that your barbecue is placed on clear level ground where it will not tip over;

n Use approved barbecue fuel or firelighters to light it, never petrol or paraffin;

n Keep barbecues away from the house, shed, fences, garden furniture or overhanging trees and shrubs;

n Keep children and pets well away from the cooking area;

n Empty any spent ash on to bare soil, not into a dustbin;

n If you are lighting a barbecue in the countryside or on the beach – check beforehand that it is an authorised area.

For more information on the Westhampnett blaze, click here.