Fire Service

Outdoor fire safety

Due to the recent rise in temperature West Midlands Fire Service has attended an Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.51.11increasing amount of fires in the open. These have been caused by a variety of reasons. Smethwick Fire Station recently attended several fires in and around the Bearwood area where one fire was caused maliciously and another fire was due to a disposable Barbecue that had been left unattended. This is very dangerous because the ground and vegetation is very dry in these high temperatures and small fires can spread rapidly. Last year saw the loss of 19 Firefighters in the United States due to a Wildfire this highlights the dangers that can be faced

West Midlands Fire Service would like you to consider the following points surrounding outdoor safety and before having Barbecues at home.


Leisure activities such as barbecues should be relaxing and enjoyable experiences. But, cooking over hot coals can be hazardous and people can easily be distracted when in the company of friends and family.

Barbecue messages include:

  • Enjoy yourself, but don’t drink too much alcohol if you are in charge of the barbecue.Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.55.01
  • Keep a bucket of water, sand or a garden hose nearby for emergencies.
  • Follow the safety instructions provided with disposable barbecues.
  • Never use a barbecue indoors.
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue; use only recognised lighters or starter fuels on coal.
  • Never leave a barbecue unattended.
  • Make sure your barbecue is well away from sheds, fences, trees, shrubs or garden waste.
  • Empty ashes onto bare garden soil, not into dustbins or wheelie bins. If they’re hot, they can melt the plastic and start a fire.

In recent years there have been a few occurrences of people suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of lighting a barbecue in a tent or other enclosed space.


When you are going camping, follow these basic precautions to reduce the risk of fire starting and spreading:

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.55.13Never use candles in or near a tent – torches are safer.
  • Before you set off, get the contact details of the local fire and rescue service.
  • Set up tents at least six metres apart and away from parked cars.
  • Make sure you know what the fire arrangements on the camp site are and where the nearest telephone is.
  • Don’t smoke inside a tent.
  • Place your cooking area well away from the tent.
  • Keep your cooking area clear of items that catch fire easily (‘flammable’ items), including long, dry grass.
  • Put cooking appliances in a place where they can’t easily be knocked over.
  • Keep matches, lighters, flammable liquids and gas cylinders out of the reach of children.
  • Have an escape plan and be prepared to cut your way out of your tent if there is a fire.

Inland and coastal boats and pleasure crafts

Fire safety on inland and coastal boats and pleasure crafts is also an issue.

 Fires can spread quickly on a boat, even on water. Alarms and detectors can help keep you and your crew safe. Additional messages around when living onboard include:

  • Make sure you check and maintain your boat’s fuel, gas and electrical systems on a regular basis.
  • Make an emergency plan with everyone on board before you set out.
  • If in doubt, don’t fight a fire yourself.       Get out, stay out and wait for the fire and rescue service.


Having a working smoke alarm when you’re staying in a caravan is just as important as having one in your home. Additional messages for those living in caravans include:

  • Ensure caravans and tents are at least 6 metres apart and away from parked cars.
  • Make sure you know what the fire arrangements on the camp site are and where the nearest telephone is.

Inside the caravan:

  • If you smoke, use metal ashtrays – and never smoke in bed.
  • Don’t leave children alone inside.
  • Don’t block air vents – if any leaking gas builds up you may fall unconscious and be unable to escape.
  • Turn off all appliances before you leave the caravan or go to bed.
  • Never use a cooker or heater whilst your caravan is moving.

If there’s a fire in your caravan:

  • Get everyone out straight away.
  • Call the fire and rescue service and give your location with a map reference, if possible, or provide a nearby landmark, like a farm.

How to reduce the risk of wildfires

Dry ground in the summer means there’s an added risk of a fire starting, but you should take care at all times of the year. Follow these tips to reduce the chance of a wildfire in the countryside:

  • Extinguish cigarettes properly and don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground – take Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.55.25your litter home.
  • Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.
  • Avoid using open fires in the countryside.
  • Don’t leave bottles or glass in woodland – sunlight shining through glass can start fires (take them home and recycle them).
  • Only use barbecues in a suitable and safe area and never leave them unattended.
  • If you see a fire in the countryside, report it to the fire and rescue service immediately.
  • Don’t attempt to tackle fires that can’t be put out with a bucket of water – leave the area as quickly as possible and diall 999.

In the countryside

Every year, fire destroys thousands of acres of countryside and wildlife habitats. Some fires are started deliberately, but most are due to carelessness.

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.55.36Put out cigarettes and other smoking materials properly before you leave your vehicle.
  • If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately.
  • Avoid open fires in the countryside.       Always have them in safe designated areas.
  • If you can, prepare for the arrival of the fire and rescue service at the pre-arranged meeting point, by unlocking gates, etc.

Sky lanterns

With plenty of celebrations going on, it is very likely that a lot of people will be using sky lanterns.

We recommend that you do not use sky lanterns as you have no control over them once they’ve been set off. They can kill animals, litter the countryside and can even start fires. If you do choose to set them off, always follow the manufacturers’ guidance/instructions carefully. This is very topical for the Smethwick area as only last year we saw the biggest involvement of fire appliances at a fire that the West Midlands Fire Service has ever dealt with. The #smethwickfire occurred at the Jayplas plastic recycling plant on Dartmouth road and saw the involvement of 35 fire appliances plus supporting vehicles from around the Midlands area. This fire was started by a Sky Lantern which was shown on CCTV footage.

West Midlands Fire Service offer FREE Home Safety Checks. You can receive a visit by your local Fire fighters and get advice and guidance on cooking, electrical safety, night time routines, planning escape routes in case of fire and much more. You may even qualify for a FREE smoke alarm to be fitted.

If you or someone you know would like a free Home Safety Check, please ring FREEPHONE 0800 389 5525 to arrange a suitable appointment and quote: “Partnership reference 811”.

For any other general enquiries regarding Fire Service activities and Fire Safety advice, please contact: Watch Commander Lee Sketchley or Crew Commander Neil Rooker at Smethwick Fire Station 0121 380 7533.


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