By Steve Ross, Wareham Store Manager
Enjoying a BBQ with friends and family is a classic activity enjoyed by many of us each year. With summer just around the corner, these will likely become a frequent addition in many back gardens which is why I’m so proud to be a part of Co-op’s new Put Me Out campaign. This has been designed to raise awareness of the importance of safe and responsible use of instant BBQs.
I’m sure we can all recall the news reports from last summer. The haunting images of huge swathes of forest and moorlands burning out of control and putting many lives at risk as the flames were tackled. Generally, millions of people enjoy BBQing and use them responsibly, but some of these fires were blamed on the misuse of instant BBQs.
This really struck a chord with me as I know just how quickly things can turn dangerous. For 15 years, I’ve been a part time firefighter where I was required to be within four minutes of the station and could be called out to support at any time. Now, alongside my role as a store manager, I continue to spend my evenings and weekends at Hamworthy fire station working for Dorset and Wiltshire fire and rescue service.
In 2020, I was one of the huge team of firefighters who tackled the flames in the Wareham Forest fire. This was one of the largest fires seen in the UK and took over 10 days to fully extinguish. In fact it was so large, we had to draft in support from neighbouring counties and even needed the assistance of a helicopter from South Wales to drop water on it. It was definitely a frightening time, not to mention a tiring couple of weeks.
Following conversations with my Area Manager, I got in touch with a number of teams in the Support Centre and became involved in the Put Me Out Campaign. It’s important that our customers, colleagues and members can all enjoy delicious, barbecued food without putting our local communities at risk.
Co-op Instant BBQs are different to others that are available as they’re FSC certified and also use Fair Trade charcoal certified by Traidcraft. Through launching the Put Me Out campaign, we’re going one step further leading the way in the market and encouraging greater safe and responsible use of the products. We’ve done this by redesigning the packaging on all our Instant BBQ to clearly display prominent safety and warning messages which remind customers to “Put Me Out” by extinguishing with water after use.
I think this is definitely a step in the right direction and will help prevent future fires occurring. We’ve also received support from the National Fire Chiefs Council who agree that banning the sale of instant BBQs isn’t the right solution, but educating people on using them safely is vital.
When using our instant BBQs there are a few really important things to remember:
- Always place the BBQs safely, on a hard, heat resistant surface like bricks and in a well-ventilated space. If you’re not cooking up a storm in your own garden, you must make sure you’re in an authorised outdoor environment and not in areas certified with Public Space Protection orders
- Extinguish the BBQs with water after you’ve used them – remember to Put Me Out like the packaging explains
- Dispose of the BBQs responsibly when you’re finished – the cardboard and metal used in them is widely recyclable
- Never use a makeshift BBQ as these are unpredictable and can pose a much greater risk
So, whether you’ve already planned an alfresco dinner or maybe a burst of warm weather means you decided to BBQ on a whim, hopefully this helps.