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MSP urges caution as firefighters tackle dozens of barbeque fires each year

Firefighters in Scotland have attended 161 barbeque fires since 2017 (Aaron Chown/PA)
Firefighters in Scotland have attended 161 barbeque fires since 2017 (Aaron Chown/PA)

An MSP has issued a warning to the public after figures revealed firefighters are called out to dozens of barbeque fires each year.

Liam McArthur, Scottish Liberal Democrats justice, policing and fire spokesman, has urged caution to Scots using or disposing of barbeques this summer.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has been called out to 161 fires involving barbeques since 2017/18, according to a freedom of information request by the party.

And the number of fires caused by barbeques is on the rise, with more than half of the incidents occurring since 2020, figures show.

Mr McArthur said: “With summer in full swing, more and more Scots will be out in their gardens, in the park or exploring the countryside enjoying a barbeque.

“These figures show that on dozens of occasions these barbeques have got out of control.

“Scotland is facing the consequence of the climate emergency first-hand. It is easier than ever for fires to spread out of control, damaging property and our beautiful natural environment.

“I would urge the public to listen to the fire service’s advice, exercise caution, never leave a barbeque unattended and always wait until ashes are cold to touch before binning them.”

Hate Crime and Public Order bill
Liam McArthur has issued a warning to those using barbeques this summer (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

The Orkney MSP has also urged the Scottish Government to support the service amid rising pressures on the SFRS.

It comes as the fire service announced a “very high” risk of wildfires across southern and eastern parts of the country as temperatures soar in the dry conditions.

Mr McArthur added: “Scottish Liberal Democrats have previously revealed that SFRS spend £27 million on overtime in the past five years and that an average of 20 retained firefighters or volunteer staff are leaving the service every month.

“That’s not sustainable. SFRS needs to be properly resourced and equipped to tackle the challenges they face day in, day out.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are clear that people should act responsibly when using and disposing of barbecues.

“Barbecues, including disposable ones, should never be left unattended and people must ensure they are completely cool before they are disposed of safely, along with all other rubbish.”

David Farries, SFRS director of service delivery, said: “We welcome any support to highlight our advice to help keep communities safe.

“We once again urge people to visit our website for more information about seasonal summer risks, and this includes key advice for the safe use of barbecues.

“It is imperative that the public exercises caution as carelessness can result in injury or fire spread which can damage property and the surrounding environment.”

Mr Farries, who chairs the National On Call Leadership Forum, added: “We commend all of our on-call firefighters who respond at a moment’s notice to protect communities.

“There is no doubt that recruitment can be challenging within more rural and remote communities for a variety of reasons and that is why we have commenced a project that will drive improvements in how we attract and recruit people.

“We will continue to engage with key stakeholders and encourage people to help us provide a service for the community by becoming an on-call firefighter.”