Chris and Jo Fowler looking at the damage caused by a BBQ Fire

A Victorian family of 3 has joined firefighters in asking everyone to inspect their barbecues before and during the AFL Grand Final long weekends.

Chris and Jo Fowler and their son Liam know how important safety is for barbecues. They have been through a lot of it themselves. ‘frightening’Their Merricks family home in Merricks woke them up at 5:45 AM to a sounding smoke alarm.

The barbecue was used to cook dinner the previous night. However, it was accidentally left on, which led to a house fire within the wall cavity at around 4 AM.

“Jo woke me up after hearing the smoke alarms sounding and the smoke led us to the barbecue where we could see that I’d accidentally turned the flames to high, rather than off,”Chris said.

“We were able to safely switch the barbecue off and call Triple Zero (000). Our family was fortunate to have a working smoke alarm and get out safely.”

“CFA firefighters located the fire inside the wall cavity and contained it quickly which limited the damage and saved our home.

“If the fire had around 15 more minutes, it would have taken hold of the entire timber house.”

Chris said he’d never considered that a barbecue or house fire could happen in their home, and since the incident, he’s made some very important changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“Every time I light up the barbecue, I say, ‘gas on’ and ‘gas off’ aloud, to help me remember and so people around me hear that I’ve done it,”He said.

“More importantly, we’ve made a home fire escape plan in addition to our standard bushfire plan.

“We’ve learned fires can happen anywhere, any time.

“Every time I hear about a house fire I’m reminded of how lucky we were to have working smoke alarms installed, otherwise the outcome could have been far, far worse.”

Across Victoria, CFA responded to more than 190 barbecue fires within CFA’s response area between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan knows this weekend’s footy festivities will make for perfect conditions for a ‘snag on the barbie’He reminded Victorians to keep their fires burning while they cheer for their favorite team.

“Taking the time to do a few quick safety checks could save your home and family’s life,”He 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; if this occurs, turn off the gas and correct or replace the connections.

“The only siren you should hear this weekend is the one from the MCG.

“And finally, don’t forget to switch the barbecue off at the cylinder when you’re finished with it as well.”

Safety tips for barbecuing

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