Warmer weather means people will be enjoying having fun and BBQs with friends and colleagues. However, BBQs are also a significant cause of fires in the UK. There was a 38 per cent increase in insurance claims for cooking fires between 2019 and 2020 with most of these incidents caused by backyard barbecues, according to insurance industry reports. The problem of barbecue fires is so large that government ministers have called for a national ban on disposable barbecues.
Simple fire safety precautions can reduce fire risk and avoid accidents at BBQs. Our BBQ fire safety guide tells you everything you need to know about barbecue fire safety.
What are the Laws Around Barbecue Fire Safety?
Whether you plan on enjoying a BBQ in your backyard, in a public park or as part of a work event, you must be aware of the UK laws about barbecuing. Many local councils have bylaws that restrict when and where you can BBQ. Depending on where you live, strict BBQ fire safety laws may apply to specific public spaces. If you’re found to have broken these laws, you can be forced to pay hefty fines.
Regulations for BBQ Fire Safety
BBQ Safety in Private and Public Spaces
While there aren’t specific regulations against barbecuing on private property, you should follow general fire safety precautions.
However, the laws around barbecuing in public spaces vary across the UK. London and Birmingham, for example, have banned the use of disposable BBQs in public parks. In other areas, using a disposable BBQ is perfectly fine so long as it’s within a designated area.
Regulations on Barbecuing in National Trust and Countryside Areas
- Barbecuing on any land owned by the National Trust is prohibited
- The Countryside Code prohibits using BBQs in open countryside areas unless specific signage permits it
Regulations on Beach Barbecues
- You can barbecue on a beach, but specific rules may apply
- Many local councils have banned single-use disposable BBQs on beaches
- Some councils restrict where you can set up a barbecue
- Failure to comply with the laws could result in fines of £100 or more
Common BBQ Risks
Several fires destroyed large woodland areas throughout the UK in 2022 and were caused by disposable BBQs.
- If you’re using a disposable BBQ, make sure it’s legal to do so wherever you’re setting it up
- Many fires are caused by people misusing accelerants like petrol, paraffin or other flammable liquids to start a BBQ
- Ensure all embers are extinguished after using a disposable BBQ
- Pour water over it before you put it into a bin
There’s the risk of burns during a barbeque if you don’t take fire safety precautions. You’re probably aware that BBQs can become extremely hot and the coals retain heat for a long time after you’ve finished cooking.
- Try not to stand too close to the BBQ and make sure others keep a safe distance
- Use long-handled tongs and other types of cooking utensils that allow you to keep your distance.
- Don’t touch it unless you’re absolutely certain it’s no longer hot enough to burn you
- Always have a burns first aid kit on hand in case.
Although barbecues are exempt from smoke control rules, you can still be found guilty of causing a statutory nuisance if the smoke from your barbecue bothers anyone else. You may have to pay a fine of up to £300.
BBQ smoke can also cause visibility issues for drivers, so don’t put your barbecue near roads. Exposure to BBQ smoke for long periods is a health hazard and should be avoided.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The carbon monoxide from BBQ smoke has no smell or taste, so it’s easy for people to suffer carbon monoxide poisoning. Always set up your BBQ in a well-ventilated area away from balconies, open windows or doors that could draw smoke indoors.
If you have a headache, become dizzy and confused, feel sick and have shortness of breath, you may be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Seek immediate medical assistance.
Fire Safety Tips for BBQs
Follow this list of fire safety tips for BBQs to ensure everyone stays safe:
- Never leave a BBQ unattended
- Never use a faulty or broken BBQ
- Always set it up on a flat, even surface away from trees, shrubs, fences, windows or doors
- Never setup a BBQ on a balcony or in an inside area
- Keep small children and pets away from BBQs
- Create free space around your BBQ to reduce the risk of a fire
- Always keep an extinguisher or bucket of water and sand nearby
- Make sure that the BBQ is completely extinguished before disposing of it or leaving the area
- Never dispose of hot embers in bins
- Never use flammable liquids to start a BBQ fire
- Ensure gas cylinders are turned off before changing them
- Never use gas cylinders with leaky pipes
- Switch off your gas cylinder before turning it off at the main control to use up any remaining gas in the piping
BBQ at Work Safely with Fire Awareness Training
If you’re planning a work BBQ, you need to take appropriate BBQ fire safety measures. As well as following the above BBQ fire safety tips, make sure you have a fire warden present if you are barbecuing at work.
Keep firefighting equipment near the BBQ area and have a dedicated burn first aid kit close by. Ensure that all health and safety procedures are being followed and that you are in compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 (RRO).
Our Fire Awareness Training will give your team a good grounding in fire safety precautions. It also ensures that your business is compliant with the RRO.