Summer Fire Safety

It is possible to enjoy a sizzling-hot summer without getting burned! When the time comes to haul out the barbecue, camping equipment and lawn mower, give some thought to this advice from the Fire Commissioner's Office; it could keep you a lot safer this summer.


Summer safety tips

Barbecue with care

Barbecuing is an enjoyable activity, but this enjoyment can turn into disaster unless proper safety precautions are taken. Follow these safety tips to ensure safe and enjoyable barbecuing.

Gas barbecues

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions when fitting the gas cylinder to the barbecue. Use proper wrenches to tighten connections. Fittings on old-style propane cylinders have left-hand threads and are tightened by turning counterclockwise. New style propane cylinder fittings do not require a wrench and tighten clockwise.
  • If your barbecue connection area has an O-ring, check it every time you connect the cylinder. Replace missing, cracked or damaged O-rings.
  • After connecting the gas supply hose to the barbecue, open the propane cylinder or natural gas supply valve. Check for gas leaks by applying a soapy solution over the connections and hose. Bubbles will form if there is a leak.
  • If a leak or fire occurs, turn off gas supply valve immediately.
  • Always light the match before turning on the gas to prevent an excessive gas buildup. If the barbecue is equipped with an electronic igniter, follow directions.
  • Always ensure that the cylinder valves are fully open or fully closed.
  • Propane cylinders must be tested every 10 years. If you are refused a refill, chances are your cylinder is past the retest date. Recertification of the tank can be arranged through most propane-filling stations.
  • Avoid a fire or explosion–never light a gas barbecue that has a leaking hose, a leaking connection or with the barbecue lid closed.
  • Never store extra propane cylinders under your barbecue or indoors. Excess heat may overpressure the cylinder and cause it to release propane form the cylinder relief valve.
  • When transporting a cylinder, secure it in an upright position with a safety plug (a POL plug) in place. Keep the trunk open to allow air circulation. A POL plug will prevent gas leakage when the valve is accidentally turned on.
  • Prevent grease from dripping onto the hoses or cylinder–grease buildup is a fire hazard.
  • Turn off all valves when the barbecue is not in use.

Charcoal barbecues

  • Use only an approved fire-starter fluid designed for barbecue grills. Do not use gasoline. Store the remaining fire starter fluid in a safe place.
  • Keep fire-starter fluids away from children. The fluids are poisonous. Special childproof caps are available. Solid fuel fire starters or electric fire starters are also available.
  • Prevent fire hazards by keeping the barbecuing area free of twigs, dried leaves and paper products such as paper cups, plates and napkins.
  • Place the charcoal barbecue in a well-ventilated area–avoid accumulation of carbon monoxide. 
  • Before disposing of charcoal ash, ensure it is thoroughly extinguished. Live coals or hot embers can start a fire; be very careful!
  • Under the Alberta Fire Code, using solid fuel (charcoal or wood) barbecues is not permitted on balconies in buildings with more than two dwelling units.

General information

  • When buying a barbecue, select one that bears the CSA or ULC label. Follow manufacturer's instructions and if needed, have it repaired by a trained professional
  • Keep barbecues away from anything that can burn.
  • Use long-handled barbecue tongs and brushes: put extra distance between yourself and the intense heat of the barbecue.
  • Never allow children to use or play around a gas barbecue.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher, baking soda and water available to put out an accidental fire.
  • Do not wear loose clothing near a barbecue.
  • When barbecuing, protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits over your forearm.
  • If you get burned, run cool water over the burn for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not use butter or creams on burns: they seal in heat and can cause further damage to the tissue. If you suffer a serious burn, with charred skin, for example, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Never use barbecues inside.