Don't let Australia Day fun strike a snag

Published: 25th January 2011

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan has urged people to avoid any serious snags in their Australia Day celebrations and play it safe when firing up the barbecue.

Mr Whan said thousands of people celebrated Australia Day with a barbecue for family and friends but sometimes these get-togethers ended in injuries and damage to properties.

"Last summer there were 67 barbecue-related fires across NSW with the vast majority involving gas barbecues," he said.

"Faulty or damaged gas cylinders and lines were the causes of more than half these fires.

"At one incident in Sydney's north a barbecue exploded after the gas line ruptured. The fire got into the eaves and then spread into the home's ceiling.

"Firefighters had to pull down parts of the ceiling to attack the blaze and stop it spreading throughout the rest of the property.

"In another incident in Sydney's west, a property's outdoor entertainment area, including the pergola, spa, outdoor bar and table and chairs, was totally destroyed in a fire which started from a barbecue gas cylinder connection.

"By following some simple precautions you can protect yourself and keep other people, properties and bushland safe," Mr Whan said.

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said it was important gas cylinders and hoses were in good condition before a barbecue was fired up.

"Make sure your barbecue is properly serviced and maintained. Check hoses and connections are working properly and inspect the cylinder for rust or damage," Commissioner Mullins said.

Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons reminded people open fires, including wood and charcoal barbecues, could not be used on Total Fire Ban days.

"If you are having a barbecue, especially if you're camping, ensure it is fully extinguished after use and make sure you check for Total Fire Bans. On days of Total Fire Ban, no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended."

Fire and Rescue NSW's barbecue safety tips

Fire and Rescue NSW's barbecue safety tips include:

  • Service and maintain your barbecue correctly - check cylinders for rust or damage and make sure connections are clear and fit properly before lighting
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and use the correct start up and shut down procedures. After use, make sure the gas is turned off at the cylinder
  • Never put flammable liquid on to a barbecue
  • Keep children away from the barbecue and store lighters and matches in a secure place
  • If a gas leak occurs, and it is safe to do so, shut off the cylinder immediately and allow any gas to disperse
  • After use make sure the gas is turned off at the cylinder
  • Call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.