‘It’s time people listened to our warnings’: Call for disposable barbecues ban as temperatures set to soar higher

PUBLISHED: 17:00 25 June 2020

Firefighters tackling a wildfire at Wanstead Flats on July 15, 2018, London's

Firefighters tackling a wildfire at Wanstead Flats on July 15, 2018, London's "biggest ever grass fire". Picture: Helen Mathias / EyeContact Photography

HelenMathias-EyeContact Photography

A ban on disposable barbecues is being urged by firefighters fearing a spike in grass fires.

Fire damage done to Wanstead Flats after the grass and tree fire.Fire damage done to Wanstead Flats after the grass and tree fire.

The call comes almost two years since a blaze at Wanstead Flats, which was dubbed London’s biggest ever grass fire, and as the temperature looks set to soar to 34C in the coming days.

The London Fire Brigade reports already attending more than 1,400 grass fires across the city this year. There have 46 grass fires in Newham so far this year and 55 in Redbridge.

In 2018, London saw record numbers of grass fires, including the biggest ever tackled by the brigade at the Flats, which took more than 200 firefighters four days to bring under control. The cause has not been determined, though cigarettes, rubbish and barbecues are common causes of grass fires.

Crews are keen to prevent a repeat this year so are calling for the ban on barbecues, which can easily start fires on dry grass.

The brigade’s deputy commissioner, Richard Mills, said: “Barbecuing on dry grass is thoughtless and reckless and can easily be the cause of a significant fire, which isn’t something you want on your conscience.

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“It’s not just barbecues that cause grass fires – we also need people to stop putting lives at risk by carelessly dropping cigarettes or matches on dry grass and stop leaving their rubbish around as glass bottles can also start fires by magnifying the sun’s rays and starting a fire.

“There is likely to be a prolonged spell of hot weather and for the sake of our city and of our firefighters – who have to work in sweltering temperatures to tackle these blazes – it’s time people listened to our warnings.

“All it takes is one inconsiderate act and a huge area of grass can go up in minutes.”

The brigade has issued a series of tips to prevent grass fires including not using disposable barbecues at all in public spaces during prolonged hot weather and disposing of smoking materials such as cigarettes and matches safely.

It also recommends never leaving camp fires unattended and extinguishing them properly after you have finished using them

Bottles, glasses and any broken glass should be cleared away to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire.

Parents and carers should also explain the dangers of playing with and lighting fires to children.

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