Fire & Rescue NSW and WorkCover issue gas cylinder safety alert

Published: 10th October 2012

WorkCover NSW and Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) today issued a warning to the NSW community to be careful when firing up the barbecue and filling their LPG cylinders this summer.

The warning follows two recent fires at Sydney service stations involving LPG cylinders as well as a series of LPG and barbecue fires caused largely by the wear and tear of gas hoses and burners.

General Manager of WorkCover's Work Health and Safety Division, John Watson, said the service station fires at Newtown and Hoxton Park were the result of unsafe practices when decanting LPG into smaller cylinders, such as those used in barbeques.

"Working with LPG cylinders can be dangerous due to the risk of fire and explosion when cylinders are over-filled or potential ignition sources, such as static electricity, are not controlled," Mr Watson said.

"LPG cylinders should be "earthed" while being filled, by placing them on the ground to limit the risk of static electricity build from the flow of gas. They should also never be left unattended while being filled as this can lead to overfilling and gas escaping.

"In the five years to June 2011, there have been 782 claims for incidents involving gas cylinders.

"Although no-one was injured in these incidents, significant damage was caused to both properties and a serious threat was posed to workers, members of the public, and surrounding residential and commercial properties."

"There are a number of risks that businesses need to address when decanting LPG into cylinders, such as not using cylinders that are damaged or corroded, not using cylinders with damaged attachments or leaking hoses, and decanting a safe distance from fuel dispensers, flammable materials, tanks containing dangerous goods, public places, and building entries and exits."

FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said since 1 June, firefighters had responded to 64 barbecue fires and 67 leaking or damaged LPG cylinders and hoses, the majority of which were BBQ cylinders.

"When a cylinder leaks, especially on balconies, the gas pools until something ignites it like a cigarette or an electrical spark," Commissioner Mullins said.

"We saw this recently on 29 August where the resulting explosion and fire caused extensive damage and nearly claimed the life of the family who lived in the unit. The barbecue hadn‟t been used for several months and the cylinder had not been turned off. When the air conditioner kicked in, the gas ignited.

"By following some simple precautions you can protect yourself and keep other people, properties and bushland safe when firing up the barbecue.

"With the warmer months coming on, check your LPG cylinders and the hoses and if they look old or perished, have them checked by a specialist at your local BBQ, camping or caravan store. For less than $50 you can buy a new hose and regulator and the experts there will ensure your fittings and cylinders are in good order

"Always make sure your cylinder is connected properly before igniting the BBQ. Don't use LPG cylinders or barbecue indoors and make sure the LPG cylinder valve is turned off when not in use.

"If your BBQ or LPG cylinder does catch fire, call Triple Zero (000) immediately and ensure everyone gets away and stays away from the fire until firefighters have attended and rendered it safe."

FRNSW‟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.
  • Never use an LPG cylinder indoors or in a confined space.
  • 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.
  • Get out and call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency - and stay out.

WorkCover has published a safety alert for the decanting of LPG cylinders. Businesses and workers seeking further information on LPG cylinder safety should visit or call 13 10 50.

For more barbecue fire safety tips visit