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Balcony barbecues in Hackney are an “accident waiting to happen”

PUBLISHED: 14:37 07 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:00 09 August 2020

The London Fire Brigade have been campaigning to warn people of the dangers of barbecuing and smoking on balconies. Picture: LFB

The London Fire Brigade have been campaigning to warn people of the dangers of barbecuing and smoking on balconies. Picture: LFB

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Residents are being warned about the “devastating consequences” of barbecuing on their balconies this summer and figures suggest a higher incidence of balcony fires in the borough.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said it is dealing with, on average, almost four fires on balconies every week in the capital and the figure will likely increase as the city heats up.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “There are many hazards which can cause balcony fires and they have the potential to be devastating with highly damaging consequences – with a risk to life and the potential for not just you but your neighbours to lose their homes.”

READ MORE: Firefighters rush to Hackney flat blaze

The dangerous and growing trend has contributed to over 600 balcony fires in London and 48 in Hackney over the last three years – four balcony fires have happened in the borough so far this year.

To put that in perspective, If the number of fires on balconies were distributed equally over all 32 London boroughs each would expect to have had about 18 fires over the last three years.

A London Fields resident, who has witnessed several instances of balcony barbecues says it’s a “common and big problem in Hackney”.

“It’s pretty stupid,” he told the Gazette.

“My neighbour just decided to get out a [portable barbecue], stuck that on the balcony and started lighting it up.

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“My flat filled with smoke cause obviously the windows were all open.

“It’s just dangerous – you don’t mess around with fire and it takes one minute to sort of look away and it’s taken hold. If something did catch fire your just going to panic.”

In May, the LFB’s Deputy Commissioner Richard Mills was so concerned with the issue he wrote to a number of manufacturers and retailers highlighting his concerns about barbecues specifically marketed for use on balconies.

He said: “These balcony barbecues are a staggeringly irresponsible idea and are being marketed carelessly, with hardly any thought as to how dangerous they are.

“They are an accident waiting to happen and they are even being advertised with images of wooden balconies and with the suggestion customers have a fire extinguisher nearby.”

The Fire Brigade has warned to “never barbecue on your balcony” or store combustible materials there.

It also warned about putting cigarette’s out properly and never throwing butts over the side of a balcony.

The deputy commissioner added: “We understand people want to enjoy their outside space if they have it, especially at the moment while we are all spending more time at home, but please don’t think it won’t happen to you, because it can.

“Don’t be the reason you and your neighbours end up looking for somewhere else to live because of your cigarette or barbecue.”

UPDATE: An additional three balcony fires happened in the months of July and August 2020 making the total number of fires in the last three years in Hackney 51. Seven balcony fires have occurred in the borough so far this year.


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