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Stop and think before you flash up is the message for BBQ enthusiasts this summer. Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) have joined forces to underline essential safety steps to take when lighting up BBQs, especially if people are planning to use disposable BBQs in public spaces, like the seafront.

With coronavirus rules allowing more people to get together and socialise outside and the hope of more good weather ahead, a bumper BBQ summer is anticipated – increasing the risk of fires and call outs to the emergency services.

HIWFRS deals with around 50 barbecue and bin fire related incidents around the seafront and Southsea Common each year between April and September, with the frequency of these incidents increasing in warm weather. In recent years there have also been a number of incidents recorded by Colas, the council’s highway maintenance partner, of public bins being burnt out by disposable BBQs thrown away while still partially alight.

People are being reminded to:

  • Stick to dedicated BBQ zones and be considerate to others, if you’re BBQ-ing in public places
  • Make sure you have a secure, level base – use a BBQ with a stand, paving slab or even bricks
  • Find a place away from fire risks, like hedges, trees and buildings
  • Do not light your BBQ with petrol or other flammable materials that are not specifically recommended
  • Do not leave your BBQ unattended and keep children and pets away
  • If you’re using a disposable BBQ, make sure it is fully extinguished and cold before putting it in a bin

Southsea Watch Manager, Chris Norgate, said: “As lockdown restrictions start to ease and more people make the most of the warmer weather, it’s important that everyone stays safe and reduces the risk of fires.

“The embers in disposable barbecues stay hot for a long time and can easily set alight to other rubbish when placed in a bin. Please make sure your barbecue has completely cooled down before disposing of it and use the designated barbecue areas.”

Councillor Ben Dowling, Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development, said: “Taking a few simple steps can help reduce the risk of fire or injury and help look after our outside spaces. If you’re planning a get together in public places, like the seafront, it’s especially important to stick to the dedicated BBQ zones, which have plenty of space and specific BBQ-friendly bins. Using these areas reduces the risks to others, helps to tackle litter, and limits damage to grass and wildlife in open spaces.”

Find out more about how you can safely flash up a BBQ at the seafront this summer. Visit www.hantsfire.gov.uk/safety/leisure-and-lifestyle/bbqs/ for more information and advice on BBQ and fire safety.