Churchill CFA – BBQ Safety, Burning off

Barbeque Safety

Now that the spring weather is coming upon us and we start to consider outdoor entertaining, firefighters are calling for everyone to check their barbecue before firing it up. CFA's Churchill Captain Shane Renwick said “We can’t have visitors in our homes yet, but I know many Victorian families and house mates will be keen to fire up their barbecues for the first time of the season. Before tackling your sausages, it’s really important to do a few safety checks." Captain Renwick said checking the connection on a gas barbecue is simple; just spray the hose and regulator connections with soapy water before firing up the barbecue. “Soap bubbles will appear if gas is escaping,” he said. “If this occurs, turn off the gas and correct or replace the connections. Contact a licensed gasfitter if you need assistance or have any doubts about the connections.” Shane also said people should leak-test the gas cylinder every time they connect it. “Spending a few minutes inspecting the connection before you turn on the gas will keep you and your loved ones safe,” he said. Cooking should never be left attended as many fires start in this way. With most regional Victorians able to go camping or visit national parks, Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman has urged caution around campfires. “With many regional Victorians planning to enjoy the great outdoors during the remainder of the school holidays and as we head into summer, it’s critically important campfire safety remains a priority,” he said. “It’s crucial the community works with us to prevent bushfires from starting and pays attention to campfire safety – unattended campfires can spread quickly and have devastating impacts on communities and the environment.”

Unattended campfires should be reported to 136 186, bushfires should be reported to 000.

To make sure your barbecue is safe:

If a fire occurs, don’t try to extinguish the flames if it is not safe to do so. Call Triple Zero (000) and turn off the gas at the meter or cylinder, but only if you can do so safely. Check the LP gas cylinder on your barbecue before you turn it on. A cylinder must not be refilled if it hasn’t been tested for more than 10 years or if the cylinder has been damaged. Have your gas cylinder tested and ensure you use a licensed gasfitter. You can exchange LP gas cylinders at a reputable supplier. Check the hose to make sure it has not deteriorated. Check the connections to make sure they are tight and that the O rings are in good condition and have not cracked or split. Use your barbecue in a clear space. Never use it indoors or in a confined area and ensure there is adequate clearance from walls, fences, and other property. Cook with barbecue utensils and wear an apron to protect yourself from hot fat. Remove excess fat from the barbecue after each use to prevent fires. Do not use barbecues in windy conditions as the burners may blow out, risking a gas leak.

To make sure your campfire is safe

Never light a campfire on a Total Fire Ban Day.

In state forests, use a purpose-built fireplace if provided, otherwise use a trench greater than 30 cm deep. The campfire must not exceed one square metre, while three metres in the air and on the ground around your fire must be clear of flammable material. Branches and logs on your campfire must not exceed one metre in length. Never leave a campfire unattended – stay within 50m and in sight. Campfires must be extinguished with water, not soil, as fires can still smoulder under soil. If a fire is cool to touch, it is safe to leave. On the spot fines of $545 apply to those breaching campfire rules or a maximum penalty of up to $18,174 if the matter is prosecuted in court. Visit the fire agencies’ respective websites at and for more fire safety information. Keep up to date with the latest advice and restrictions on gatherings at

Firefighters Extinguishing Tall Tree
Firefighters extinguishing up a very tall tree
Burning Off

As we start to prepare for the summer months and clean up around our properties, if you are burning off any of the waste material please be extremely careful, and NEVER leave a burnoff unattended. Just a little puff of wind is sometimes all that it takes for the fire to escape and burn through surrounding grass and climb into trees.

Churchill, Yinnar South and Boolarra brigades have recently attended a number of burnoffs that have escaped when the property owner has not been watching, and aside from the embarrassment, serious damage to neighbouring properties can occur.

It is so easy for a fire to climb up the bark into the treetops when not being watched, and this can make the fire very difficult to put out. Sometimes, the only answer is to have the tree felled so it can be extinguished properly.

You should always ensure that when you are burning off, you have advised your neighbours, have prepared around the burn to minimise the risk of escape, and have some water on hand to assist with managing any escapes.